The Republic of Ireland achieved their first-ever Women’s World Cup point, concluding their debut major tournament campaign with a 0-0 draw against Nigeria, who secured a spot in the last 16 as Group B runners-up.
In a historic match in Brisbane, Courtney Brosnan made an impressive save, diverting Uchenna Kanu’s 52nd-minute header against the bar, ensuring the already-eliminated Girls in Green secured a memorable result.
While Vera Pauw’s team bid farewell on a high note, Randy Waldrum’s Nigeria advanced to the last-16 showdown, scheduled for next Monday at the same stadium, against the winner of Group D, which is currently led by England.
The African team, having accumulated five points from their three games, will join co-hosts Australia in the next round. Australia bounced back from their surprising 3-2 defeat to Nigeria by defeating Canada 4-0 and finishing at the top of the pool.
In their previous match, Ireland suffered a 2-1 loss against Canada, with skipper Katie McCabe scoring the team’s first-ever goal at this level through a fourth-minute effort from a corner. McCabe made an early attempt in this game as well, shooting wide from the edge of the box five minutes into the match.
Nine minutes later, Ireland defender Louise Quinn lost possession, and the ball found its way to Asisat Oshoala, who was recalled to Nigeria’s starting XI after scoring as a substitute against Australia. Oshoala seemed likely to score, but she couldn’t keep her shot on target.
During the first half, Ireland had more attempts, including Sinead Farrelly’s off-target shot as she met a cross from Heather Payne at the back post. Kyra Carusa also headed the ball into Chiamaka Nnadozie’s arms. On the other side, Toni Payne made a forward burst for Nigeria, but her effort went wide.
In the second half, Brosnan’s brilliance came to the fore as she dived to push Kanu’s bouncing header against the bar. Oshoala had another wide strike shortly after, and Denise O’Sullivan’s effort was blocked by Ashleigh Plumptre.
Ireland’s defense held strong against the pressure applied by Nigeria, and McCabe almost replicated her corner trick from the Canada match, curling the ball onto the roof of the net.
After seven minutes of stoppage time, during which Brosnan dealt with a Rasheedat Ajibade shot, the Irish team celebrated a positive ending to their maiden World Cup adventure, despite finishing at the bottom of the group.