Chiamaka Nnadozie Shines As Her Penalty Save Denies The Olympic Champions Canada A Win Against The Super Falcons In Group B Opener Of The On-going FIFA Women's World Cup.

Nigeria and Canada have produced the first goalless draw of the ongoing FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia/New Zealand.

Super Falcons star Asisat Oshoala starts for the Nigeria in Melbourne, after missing the 2023 Champions League final with her club side Barcelona Femení, but has recovered on-time to lead her team's attack.

English-born defender Ashleigh Plumptre also starts, at left back.

On the other hand,Canadian forward Christine Sinclair captains her country at her sixth World Cup, in what is her 324th international match.

WSL winning Chelsea defender Kadeisha Buchanan starts, with club team mate Jessie Fleming on the bench. Ashley Lawrence, who signed for the Blues from PSG this month, also starts.

Nigeria XI

Nnadozie; Alozie, Ohale, Demehin, Plumptre; Ucheibe, Ordega; Abiodun, Oshoala, Payne; Onumonu

Subs: Oluehi, Ogbonna, Ebi, Monday, Kanu, Echegini, Imura, Okoronkwo, Balogun 

Canada XI

Sheridan; Rose, Buchanan, Gilles, Lawrence; Leon, Quinn, Grosso, Riviere; Sinclair; Huitema.

Subs: Chapman, Zadorsky, Viens, Schmidt, Prince, Carle, Fleming, D'Angelo, Lacasse, Awujo, Proulx, Smith.

Canada entered this year's World Cup with high hopes after winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

There was no surprise, as the Olympic champions started their opening Group B encounter with Nigeria the better side, with Sinclair, the all-time top goal-scorer in international football, curling an effort not far off target from the edge of the box while defender Kadeisha Buchanan saw a shot in the box thwarted by a vital block after she come forward for a corner.

But the Super Falcons gradually grew into the match and started to turn the screw as the first half went on, with Canada goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan producing a smart stop to deny Ifeoma Onumonu as she tried her luck from around 20 yards. 

The shot-stopper, also misjudged a ball over the top to Asisat Oshoala and left Nigeria with an open goal to aim at, only for Ashley Lawrence to save her blushes by intercepting the Barcelona striker's cut-back to Francisca Ordega at the perfect moment just before the break.

Coming into the second half, Canada had the perfect chance to take the lead in what was proving to be a tricky encounter.

It happened that there was an early penalty claim for the Canadians, as Christine Sinclair goes down stuttering under a slightly clumsy tackle from Francisca Ordega.

The Finnish referee Lina Lehtovaara initially waves it away, but was being called to the VAR monitor to take a look at the screen, and reverses her decision.

It is the third successive match at the 2023 World Cup that a penalty would be awarded.

With 190 international goals to her name, Sinclair as usual had the chance to make history, as the first footballer (make or female) to score at six World Cups. She, Marta and Cristiano Ronaldo have netted at five each.

However her dreadful penalty was weak, and is saved by Chiamaka Nnadozie in the 49th minute.  No power, and not accurate enough to find the keeper's bottom left corner, as the 40-year-old icon will have to wait a little more to net her milestone goal.

22-year-old Nnadozie did what she needed to do, and also reacted well to palm the second ball away to prevent any chance of a rebound to deny Canada the lead, which brings delight for Ordega who had her hands on her face, distraught at giving away that silly spot kick. 

A late-minute red card was shown to 19-year-old midfielder Deborah Abiodun late in the game, after VAR check, following a poor tackle on Ashley Lawrence as the cagey game ends in a goalless draw.

She was the first player to be sent off at this year's World Cup.

The result will please the co-hosts Australia, with them two points clear ahead of both teams at the top of Group B after beating Republic of Ireland 1-0 on Thursday.

Canada and Nigeria each have a point, with the Irish team yet to get off the mark.

Canada return to action on July 26, when they take on an Ireland side that lost narrowly to Australia on the opening night. Nigeria, meanwhile, will play the Matildas the following day.

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