Phenomenal goalkeeping performances from Kailen Sheridan and Chiamaka Nnadozie defined a physical match between Canada and Nigeria in Melbourne, which ended with a 0-0 draw.
Christine Sinclair went down in the box after being stepped on by Francisca Ordega and the VAR review resulted in a penalty.
However, the 40-year-old British Columbia native had her attempt stopped by Nigeria’s young goalkeeping phenom Nnadozie.
Sinclair, the greatest international goal scorer in football history, ended up getting subbed off in the 71st minute, only the second time in her long and illustrious World Cup career that she was taken off in a game she started.
The game had high tempo and intense physicality throughout seemingly from the moment the whistle blew.
Both sides managed double-digits in shots, with 11 for Nigeria and 16 for Canada. But the Canadians had a massive possession advantage at 68 percent.
Canada had half of their shots blocked by a stalwart Nigerian defense that out-classed the Canadians in every major defensive statistic.
As the final whistle blew, Nigeria had managed their first goalless draw at the WWC in 26 matches.
Sinclair’s attempt to become the oldest scorer in WWC history in her sixth appearance at the tournament will have to wait for the following match against Ireland in five days time.
In addition to her saved penalty, the 40-year-old also squandered the best chance of the first half when she found herself unmarked on the edge of the box but sent a rising shot high and wide in the ninth minute.
Nigeria eventually worked their way into the contest and Ifeoma Onumonu forced a low save out of Kailen Sheridan with a long-range shot that was curling into the bottom corner in the 23rd minute.
It was the only shot on target in the first half, though not through either side’s lack of willingness to get forward.
Sheridan had a nervous moment in the 35th minute when she rushed off her line and failed to deal with a pass that had been played over the top of the Canadian defense.
Asisat Oshoala couldn’t capitalize on the blunder, poking the ball back across the six-yard box, and the fortunate goalkeeper was bailed out when Vanessa Giles and Ashley Lawrence combined to clear the danger.
The second half began in a flurry as Sinclair won the penalty, clipped by Francisca Ordega as she moved away from goal in the box.
The spot kick was awarded on review and Sinclair stepped up, only to send a tame shot towards the bottom corner.
Nnadozie denied the veteran with a strong left-handed save and punched away the rebound, to the delight of the noisy Nigerian fans in the stands.
Canadian substitute Evelyne Viens got into a brilliant close-range scoring position but poked a 65th minute shot straight at Nnadozie.
Abiodun was sent off deep into stoppage time and Canada couldn’t make the numerical advantage count.