Brave Falconets go the distance, but fall at the final hurdle

by Mark Bassey

Lena Petermann scored in the eighth minute of extra time to lead Germany to a 1-0 victory over Nigeria to claim the under-20 Women’s World Cup at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

The game was tied 0-0 after regulation time.

The victory is Germany’s third at this competition, after winning the event in 2004 and 2010.

The Nigerians looked to have won the match in the 85th minute of regular time when midfielder Asisat Oshoala headed the ball across the line, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Nigeria was the better team for much of the game, as the Falconets pinned the Germans in their own half for lengthy periods of time. The Nigerian’s shots were dangerous, and their crosses constantly threatened the German defence.

But it was Petermann who broke the deadlock in extra time, firing home from close range past goalkeeper Sandra Chiichii for her third goal of the competition. Pauline Bremer of Germany took the ball from Gladys Abasi at the edge of the 18-yard-box, strolled into the penalty area and squared the ball to Petermann, who scored Germany’s 17th goal of the tournament.

The loss was Nigeria’s second in the final of the U20 tournament, after losing 2-0 to Germany in 2010.

Nigeria came closest to opening the score in the first half. Oshoala had a glorious chance in the 22nd minute when she stole the ball from German defender Margarita Gidion, walked in on a breakaway and sidestepped goalie Meike Kaemper before finding the side netting.

The tournament’s top scorer Oshoala, by far the game’s best player, was denied another promising opportunity in the 38th when Loveth Ayila walked into her shot, deflecting it wide.

The game was 0-0 at halftime, with Nigeria directing nine shots towards target to Germany’s four.

But Germany began pulling away as the game wore on. Its best chance in regular time came late when Petermann walked in on the Nigerian net on a partial break in the 78th, but her shot was scooped up by Chiichii.
The Germans finished with 13 shots on target while Nigeria had six.

Germany and Nigeria are familiar foes at the U20 event.

In 2004, when the tournament was an U19 format, Germany defeated Nigeria on penalties in the quarter-finals en route to its first championship.

In 2010, Germany’s Alexandra Popp scored early in the final to defeat Nigeria’s Falconets 2-0 in front of 24,633 in Bielefeld, Germany. Current Germany coach Karen Meinart was in charge of that team, as well.

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