Nigeria into World Cup last 16 and likely date with England

European champions England face China on Tuesday needing only a draw to top the group.

Nigeria drew 0-0 with Ireland on Monday to seal their place in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup and a likely date with England.

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The stalemate left Nigeria second behind co-hosts Australia in Group B, meaning they will meet the winner of England’s Group D.

European champions England face China on Tuesday needing only a draw to top the group.

Nigeria, who stunned Australia 3-2 on their last visit to Brisbane, recovered from a sloppy first half to get the draw they needed and reach the knockout stage for only the third time in nine attempts.

Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum said his team were improving but would have to do even better if they want to extend their World Cup, especially with England possibly looming.

“We have to be good defensively,” the American said.

“I think in the short time the team has been together they’ve done a good job with their defence.

“We now have to grow offensively. It will probably be England and I think you are going to get to watch a very good match.

“But we have to get better defensively first.”

The Nigerians showed little of the flair that helped them down Australia in the last match, particularly during a scrappy first half during which they were outfought by an Ireland side only playing for pride after two losses.

They found it hard to penetrate the Irish defensive line, with lone striker Asisat Oshoala a forlorn figure up front.

Barcelona’s Oshoala had only one chance in the first 45 minutes and should have put her side in front after latching onto a terrible backpass from Louise Quinn and finding herself one on one with keeper Courtney Brosnan.

But her shot just missed to the right-hand post and Ireland were off the hook.

Nigeria came out with far more purpose in the second half as the Irish seemed to begin to feel the pace of the first period.

Brosnan pulled off a miraculous save in the 51st minute to deny Uchenna Kanu, who hit a powerful header that bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper.

Brosnan, who was named player of the match, threw herself up to somehow tip the ball onto the underside of the bar and watch it bounce back into the field of play.

“I knew I had to do everything I could to throw myself in that direction, get a hand on it, so obviously I was glad I was able to keep it out,” said the Irish stopper.

That signalled an all-out assault on the Irish goal, only for some desperate defending to deny the Nigerians.

However, in a match lacking quality, shots on goal were scarce, seven to Nigeria and four to Ireland, all of the Irish shots coming in the first half.

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