Nigeria swept aside South Korea 2-0 to leave Group A intriguingly poised with one round of games to go.
The African side would have gone out with defeat but came good in Grenoble.
The Super Falcons, beaten in its opening game by Norway, bounced back courtesy of an own-goal by Korea’s Kim Do-yeun and Oshoala’s fine second half strike.
Here are eight thoughts from the game;
Chidinma Okeke and Ngozi Ebere were marvellous
One of the few spots in Dennerby’s starting XI not nailed down prior to departure for France was a utility player at the back.
Dennerby went with the woman in form, Okeke has been a revelation for Robo Queens.
She is sound defensively and used her right foot to deadly effect to supply the assist for Nigeria’s second goal.
Given the significance of her performance at this World Cup, that is a priceless trait.
A fully fit and in-form Ngozi Ebere can cause the meanest of back four problems. She was dashing like a Cheetah on Wednesday.
The beauty of this Nigeria team is that they are a team, made up of component parts to create something better and Ebere is the embodiment of that.
Chiamaka Nnadozie took her chance well
The significance of the Rivers Angels stopper’s role in the win over South Korea could not be overstated. That was Chiamaka Nnadozie’s moment as much as anyone else’s; her chance to prove once and for all she was Nigeria’s No.1 after questions about her readiness for the role.
At 18 years and 186 days, Chiamaka Nnadozie has become the youngest ever goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in a Women’s World Cup game. She was outstanding for the Falcons.
There is no doubt about the 18-year-old’s talent but with just two seasons of Nigeria Women’s Premier League football under her belt the Imo native is a rookie – even more so on the international stage where she has fewer than ten senior outings to her name.
While Korea’s threat – as anticipated – was limited, Nnadozie was majestic when called upon.
Being Falcons’ No.1 is a thankless task – just ask Ibubeleye Whyte, Alaba Jonathan or Tochukwu Oluehi – but Nnadozie grew into her role and justified Dennerby decision to plump for her over Oluehi.
Ageless Onome Ebi proves her worth
The quality performance by Onome Ebi was essential for the Falcons.
She shut down the opposition with precision. The task for Onome was clear. Limiting the threats of So-Hyun Cho, So-Yun Ji, Geum-Min Lee and Seol-Bin Jung. But Onome handled the moment, limiting them to just four shots on goal.
The former Sunnana and Minsk defender peppered the slick Koreans and made crucial blocks for the African side.
Desire Oparanozie just needs a goal to change luck
For whatever reason – and far more worthy pieces than this have been written on the subject – En Avant Guingamp star Desire Oparanozie has become a lightening rod for the media to pin all of modern football’s ills upon.
Against Korea, though, she showed exactly why Dennerby has such unwavering faith in her. Korea were predictably obdurate, organised and unambitious. It needed a player like Oparanozie with her power, movement and ingenuity to punch holes in the Korean defence, and she almost did – twice.
Falcons midfielders Rita Chikwelu, Chinaza Uchendu and Ngozi Okobi compared vs Korea
A player whose involvement has been subject of debate is Chukwelu. She was a pedestrian in the loss to Norway but when it mattered the Kristianstads playmaker came up big with her best performance of this World Cup.
Time and time again it was Chikwelu who got in behind, got the Korean defenders on the turn and drifted between the lines, trying to pick the lock against an extremely structured, organised side happy to set up with two narrow banks of four and invite Nigeria onto them.
Her long pass was diverted home by Kim Do-yeun for Falcons first goal.
Defensively she put in a shift, too, winning seven tackles – no Nigeria or Korea player managed more.
4-1-2-3 Xmas Formation Returns
The formation used in defeating Slovakia was reinstated by Dennerby. Nigeria looked more threatening when played in a 4-1-2-3 formation. Despite an indifferent early exchanges, Nigeria came back all guns blazing. Nigeria played with an improved intensity. The ball was moved quicker and during a counter attack, Nigeria utilized the power of Desire Oparanozie upfront which led to the first goal.
South Korea have a good set up
South Korea’s set-up was very impressive. In the first half, they lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, stayed compact and prevented Nigeria from penetrating through the middle. They also blocked passing lanes by manning the channels efficiently when Nigeria wanted to use the width of the pitch. Nigeria found it difficult in the first half but improved tremendously and took the lead. In an attempt to equalize, they shifted to a 3-2-5 formation which proved futile. That gave Nigeria access into Korea’s defence but overall, Korea proved that they are no pushovers.
Rita Chikwelu is a number four
Definitely, Chikwelu’s qualities do not make her suited to the number 10 role and Dennerby has been vindicated by his decision to play her in holding midfield role. She had an excellent game as she dictated the tempo of the game with her cool and controlled approach with the ball. She provided the foundation for Okobi and Uchendu to move freely to join the attack.