Summer Series: Nigeria, Portugal play 3-3 draw as Ajibade’s late strike save Falcons

By Harry Awurumibe, Africa’s No. 1 Women’s Football Journalist

I am she…Rasheedat Ajibade, scorer of Nigeria’s 3rd goal in the 3-3 draw with Portugal in Houston, Texas

A stoppage time goal scored by Atlectico Madrid midfielder, Rasheedat Ajibade in the 90+5 minute was what Nigeria’s Super Falcons needed to force Portugal to 3-3 draw in both country’s second matches of the Summer Series at BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas, United States (US) in the wee hours of Monday.

The Portuguese were heading to a 3-2 victory after leading Falcons till the last minute of the five added time but Ajibade’s goal assisted by Toni Payne ensured that the African Champions tied the match 3-3 at the dead.
This scoreline salvaged the day for the Nigerians who had last Thursday at the same venue lost by a lone goal to Reggae Girlz of Jamaica in the first game of the Four-nation invitational tournament.

Super Falcons

Portugal which like Nigeria lost the first game 0-1 to Team USA, started the brightest of the two sides on redemption mission by scoring twice inside the first 34 minutes, no thanks to own goal by Nigerian youthful defender, Chidinma Okeke in the 22nd minute and Captain Carole Costa assisted by Andreia Jacinto in the 33rd.

But Nigeria pulled a goal back in the 44th minute just before halftime courtesy of enterprising Michelle Alozie’s close range effort after she was found in the box by Real Madrid experienced midfielder Rita Chikwelu.

Impressive Michelle Alozie on the Ball. She scored Nigeria’s goal.

On resumption, American-born Super Falcons Head Coach, Randy Waldrum made early changes but it was Portugal that once again led by two goals early in the second half after a  Portuguese stole the ball from new entrant, Salome Zogg andTelma Encarnação assisted by Andreia Jacinto scored the third goal for Portugal in the 49th minute. It then looked like Portugal will maul Nigeria in the match.

However, an own goal by Portugal’s substitute Diana Gomes in the 52nd minute gifted Nigeria her second goal and a lifeline just as it also elicited a late Nigeria fight back which was late in coming with the 90+5 minute Ajibade backbreaker. Nigeria bench and a sprinkle of their fans celebrated like winning a trophy.
The draw was a big relief for Waldrum and his team which benefited from the presence of two late arrivals, Captain Asisat Lamina Oshoala and Onome Ebi, as Nigeria faces uphill task on June 16 at Q2 Stadium in Austin where the 9-time African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) winners will confront 4-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions.

Portugal line-up

Meanwhile, Team USA mauled Jamaica 4-0 in the second game of the Sunday night local time with goals from Carli Lloyds (1′) ; Lindsey Horan (7′ pen.); Margaret Purce (22′) and Amie Carassco (90+1′). Up next for USA is the clash with African Champions after the host has won two games on the bounce without conceding any goal.

Nigeria lineup:1-Tochukwu Oluehi; 4-Glory Ogbonna (3-Salome Zogg, 46); 9-Toni Payne; 10-Rita Chikwelu (7-Ebinemiere Bokiri, 83); 13-Ifeoma Onumonu (12-Ijeoma Okonronkwo, 46); 14-Chidinma Okeke; 15-Rasheedat Ajibade; 17-Francisca Ordega (2-Gift Monday, 82); 22-Michelle Alozie; 5-Onome Ebi (21-Nicole Payne, 58) and 8-Asisat Oshoala (Capt.) (18-Obianujuwan Ikechukwu, 70).
Substitutes not used: 16-Yewande Balogun, 23-Sunday Etim, 6-Charity Adule, 11-Amanda Mbadi, 19-Akudo Ogbonna, 20-Blessing Demehin.
Head coach: Randy Waldrum

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