England are out of the FIFA Women's U20 World Cup after a 2-1 defeat to Nigeria in Edmonton.
Nikita Parris had given the Young Lions the perfect start, dinking a left-foot shot beyond Sandra Chiichii for an early lead, only for Loveth Ayila to level shortly before the break with an effort from range.
England 1-2 Nigeria
FIFA Women's U20 World Cup
Thursday 14 August 2014
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
Beth Mead had a chance to restore England’s lead from the penalty spot but smashed her kick over the top.
And just minutes later, Asisat Oshoala was awarded a penalty of her own. The Nigerian made no mistake, finding the bottom left corner to break England hearts.
Marley made two changes to the team that started the opening two group matches. Everton defender Gabby George replaced Mel Lawley and Birmingham midfielder Abbey-Leigh Stringer came in for Katie Zelem.
George slotted in at centre back alongside Aoife Mannion, Leah Williamson moved out to left-back while Hannah Blundell was pushed forward to join Mead and Parris as part of the front three.
At the game kicked off the permutations were simple – and Parris, the Everton livewire, gave her side a dream start.
With England dominant in the early exchanges, Nigeria defender Sarah Nnodim sent a goal-kick down the centre of the pitch which an unmarked Sherry McCue nodded into Blundell’s path via Ebere Okoye’s leg.
Blundell then released Parris who had been played onside by Nnodim. The 20-year-old moved into the area and calmly clipped the ball beyond the advancing Chiichii.
The goalscorer came within inches of making it 2-0 midway through the first half when she was almost picked out by Mead’s right-sided cross, but the Nigerian keeper just got her fingertips to the ball at the last minute.
The Young Lions were dominating possession - just as they had done in the first half against Mexico four days earlier - though George had to be alert to prevent Halimatu Ayindi a clean strike at goal after Stringer’s loose pass.
But with half-time approaching, and against the run of play, Nigeria equalised.
After being dispossessed by Stringer, Courtney Dike enjoyed some good fortune to pick up the loose ball after Harris’s mis-control. She found Ayila who thumped a 25-yard drive into Lizzie Durack’s top right-hand corner for parity at the break.
Then came a crazy 15-minute spell at the start of the second half which ultimately ended England’s World Cup dream.
First, Parris chased a ball into the area only to be bundled over by Chiichii. Referee Liang Qin had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Mead took responsibility but blazed the spot-kick over the bar.
Barely five minutes later Qin awarded another penalty, this time to Nigeria after George was penalised, and booked, for a foul on Oshoala.
The defender dusted herself down and slotted the kick low into Durack’s left-hand corner.
This goal gave Peter Dedevbo’s side the impetus and they set about trying to extend their lead at every opportunity.
Substitute Uchechi Sunday, on for Dike, used her considerable height advantage to head two efforts at goal. The first hit the side netting, the second cannoned back off the crossbar.
McCue was then required to head a fierce effort from Ayinde off the line.
Mel Lawley, Paige Williams and Katie Zelem were introduced in an attempt to get back England back into the game, but the Young Lions were unable to create clear cut chances, save from a Jess Sigsworth chip that floated over the top and a late header from Parris that landed in Chiichii's grateful arms.
England (4-4-3): 1 Lizzie Durack (Everton); 2 Martha Harris (Liverpool), 5 Aoife Mannion (Birmingham City), 16 Gabby George (Everton), 20 Leah Williamson (Arsenal); 8 Jess Sigsworth (Doncaster Rovers Belles), 4 Sherry McCue (C; Aston Villa), 19 Abbey-Leigh Stringer (Birmingham City), 7 Nikita Parris (Everton), 9 Beth Mead (Sunderland), 3 Hannah Blundell (Chelsea).
Substitutes: 11 Mel Lawley (Birmingham City) for Mead (63), 12 Paige Williams (Everton) for Sigsworth (66), 10 Katie Zelem (Liverpool) for McCue (89)
Substitutes not used: 6 Meaghan Sargeant (Birmingham City), 13 Megan Walsh (Everton), 14 Jade Bailey (Arsenal), 15 Ellie Stewart (Liverpool), 17 Natasha Flint (Manchester City), 18 Jess Carter (Birmingham City), 21 Caitlin Leach (Aston Villa).
Head Coach: Mo Marley
Goals: Parris (5)
Bookings: George (59)
Nigeria: 1 Sandra Chiichii, 2 Ebere Okoye (C), 4 Asisat Oshoala, 6 Sarah Nnodim, 7 Loveth Ayila, 8 Courtney Dike, 10 Halimatu Ayinde, 15 Ugo Njoku, 17 Victoria Aidelomon, 18 Gladys Abasi, 19 Chinwendu Ihezuo.
Substitutes: 20 Uchechi Sunday for Dike (46), 11 Yetunde Adeboyejo for Aidelomon (62), 12 Uchenna Kanu for Ihezuo (90)
Substitutes not used: 3 Jiroro Idike, 5 Maryam Ibrahim, 9 Patience Okaeme, 13 Yetunde Aluko, 14 Osarenoma Igbinovia, 16 Ibijoke Sangonuga, 21 Chiudo Ehiudo.
Goals: Ayila (41), Oshoala (Pen, 59)
Head coach: Peter Dedevbo
Referee: Liang Qin (CHN)