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Canada Held to a 0-0 Draw by Nigeria in Women’s World Cup after a Rare Sinclair Miss

AP Photo/Hamish Blair
Canada’s Ashley Lawrence, left, and Nigeria’s Antionette Payne battle for the ball during the Women’s World Cup Group B soccer match between Nigeria and Canada in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, July 21, 2023.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Olympic champion Canada was held to a 0-0 draw by Nigeria in its Women’s World Cup opener after Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie made several key saves, including one on a penalty from Christine Sinclair.

It was a crucial miss for Sinclair, the 40-year-old Canadian who is the leading all-time scorer in international soccer, men or women, with 190 goals. Aiming to be the oldest player to score at the Women’s World Cup, she also missed a chance in the 9th minute when she was unmarked at the edge of the box but misfired.

Nnadozie, who plays in France for Paris FC, was voted Player of the Match.

KEY MOMENTS

Sinclair lined up for the shot in the 50th after a earning the penalty via a video review. After making a diving one-handed save, Nnadozie pointed at her head.

Sinclair exited the game in the 71st and did not speak with reporters immediately after the game.

Nnadozie also denied a shot from inside the box by Evelyne Viens in the 65th. At the end of the game, she fell to her knees and let out a celebratory yell.

WHY IT MATTERS

With neither team able to secure a victory, winning the next two group-stage matches becomes more crucial. A loss for either Nigeria or Canada in their next matches would make advancing out of the group stage very difficult. Another draw for either and the team’s final group-stage match would be a must-win.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“We wanted three (points, for a win), but getting the point keeps you in it and keeps you alive for advancement. So it’s a very positive feeling right now.” – Randy Waldrum, Nigeria head coach.

“We opened the Olympics with a draw, and we’ve got to move on quickly now and review and move on because that is tournament football. You can’t get bogged down on what you did or didn’t do. It’s onto the next task.” — Bev Priestman, Canada head coach.

“Christine Sinclair has scored many, many, many goals for this country and I’m sure the fans, the team and everyone can forgive missing a penalty kick.” — -Bev Priestman, Canada head coach.

WHAT’S NEXT

Canada moves to Perth on Australia’s west coast for its next game against Ireland, which is coming off a 1-0 loss to the Australians in the opening Group B game. Nigeria will play the co-hosts in Brisbane on Thursday. Star Australian striker Sam Kerr missed the win over Ireland because of a calf muscle injury that is also expected to keep her on the sidelines for the game against Nigeria.