Germany were deserved winners, dominating possession, scoring three, keeping yet another clean sheet. But Nigeria performed with great resolve and no little skill. That run from Rasheedat Ajibade early in the second half was as exhilarating as football gets. Had Desire Oparanozie got a toe on Ajibade’s cross to half the deficit, this would have been a whole lot tighter. Nigeria will also point to the questionable VAR call that allowed Germany’s first goal to stand, with Svenja Huth standing in front of Chiamaka Nnadozie, offside, arguably interfering with play. But Germany had too much, even in second gear, as Alexandra Popp scored her 48th international goal while Lea Schuller bagged a clinical first at a World Cup. They advance to the quarters having played four, won four, scored nine, conceded none. Imagine what they might do if they start playing well!
FULL TIME: Germany 3-0 Nigeria
Germany maintain their record of reaching every World Cup quarter-final! They’ll play Sweden or Canada next Saturday. Nigeria are on the way home.
90 min +4: Ogebe goes on a determined run down the inside right and nearly breaks through. But a consolation goal’s not to be.
90 min +3: Huth dribbles at pace down the inside left. Ayinde hauls her down, but gets away with it. No free kick.
90 min +1: No, but this wasn’t half close. Oparanozie creams the free kick towards the top right. It’s a pearler, but inches over the crossbar. That would have been a net-ripper had it been three or four inches lower.
90 min: Ordega sashays in from the left, and is unceremoniously upended by a sliding Oberdorf. A free kick just to the left of the box, 25 yards out. Can Nigeria find a consolation, and become the first team to score against Germany at this World Cup?
89 min: Huth makes a right-to-left diagonal run and nearly dribbles her way into a shooting position just inside the Nigerian box. But she ends up down a cul-de-sac. A fourth goal would be hard on Nigeria.
87 min: This game is fizzling out now. Germany have done the job required of them. But Nigeria didn’t half make them work hard for it.
85 min: That was a stunning finish by Schuller. She hasn’t done a great deal today, but when a chance presented itself she really delivered. Birgit Prinz or Gerd Muller would have been proud of that.
GOAL! Germany 3-0 Nigeria (Schuller 82)
It’s all over. Ayinde dithers over the ball while facing her own goal under pressure. She attempts a backpass to the keeper, but can’t get enough purchase on the panicked pass, and it sits up short for Schuller, who takes a stride down the inside-right channel before fizzing a clinical first-time shot into the bottom left.
81 min: Hegering suffers another whack, this time from Ajibade’s elbow, planted into the back of her head as the pair contest a high ball. It was more clumsy than malicious, but Ajibade is going into the book nevertheless.
79 min: Some baroque dribbling by the fresh Oberdorf down the left. She cuts inside and rolls a gorgeous pass down the channel to release Dabritz into the box. Dabritz only has Nnadozie to beat, but she’s coming in from a tight-ish angle, and drags her shot across the keeper and harmlessly out of play to the right of goal. That could have put this game to bed. As it is, Nigeria are still in this. But they need something soon.
77 min: A free kick for Nigeria just inside the German half. It’s launched into the mixer. Okobi rises just inside the area, and gets a header on target, but she’s too far out and there’s not enough power in the effort. Schult gathers without drama.
75 min: Ihezuo departs to warm applause from the 17,988 inside the Stade des Alpes. Nearly a full house. Fingers crossed that’s nothing more than cramp; she’s put in quite a shift at both ends of the pitch this afternoon. She’s replaced by Uchendu.
74 min: Ihezuo is down with a severe case of cramp. On comes the stretcher, it doesn’t look as though she’ll be able to continue. Team-mates perform the internationally understood mime to request a sub.
72 min: Gwinn has been a livewire presence for Germany. She very nearly fashions space to get a shot away from just inside the Nigeria box, but she’s closed down at the last. Nigeria half clear. Then Simon fizzes down the left and cuts back for Popp, whose latest attempt at the spectacular nearly hits the left-hand corner flag from the best part of 35 yards.
70 min: Huth dribbles down the left and earns Germany’s latest corner. Simon takes. She hits it long. Popp shapes for a volley, 12 yards out, and connects, but not cleanly. The ball squirts into a thicket of players before eventually being whacked clear.
69 min: Germany make their final change, switching Magull for Oberdorf.
66 min: A free kick hoicked long into the German box. Oparanozie goes up with Hegering, and accidentally clashes heads with the defender. Ooyah oof. On comes the ice pack. That will have hurt.
64 min: Buhl earns a corner out on the right. Simon sends it straight down Nnadozie’s throat.
62 min: More space for Simon on the left. Nnadozie punches this one clear with purpose.
61 min: Oparanozie is booked for coming straight through the back of Popp. Should Nigeria somehow turn this around, she’ll not be playing it the quarter-final.
60 min: It’s end-to-end fun. Kanu can’t quite sort her feet out to shoot from the edge of the German box. Then Simon finds a lot of space down the left and crosses, the ball evading Nnadozie. But there’s nobody in a white shirt available to turn the ball home.
58 min: Germany can’t find much in the way of fluency, though this is better, as Buhl chases Popp’s pass down the right and backheels for Gwinn, barrelling into space down the inside-left channel. Gwinn lifts her shot over the bar, in an attempt to float a chip over Nnadozie. A lovely move, shame about the finish.
56 min: Dabritz has a bash from distance. It’s deflected out for a corner, which results in Gwinn sending a dribbler towards goal from 25 yards. It’s easily gathered by Nnadozie.
54 min: It’s scrappy, but Nigeria will take that right now. They’ve asked a fair few questions of Germany, whose passes aren’t sticking.
52 min: Germany look a little shocked by that burst of brilliance. A flustered Hegering slices a simple clearance behind her and out for a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece, but it’s enough to get a concerned Martina Voss-Tecklenburg out of the dugout and into her technical area.
50 min: What a run by Ajibade! From the halfway line, she bursts down the left with great purpose and skill, gliding past Gwinn, who is left in the dust. Ajibade enters the box and fires a low ball across the face of goal. If Oparanozie connects with a telescopic leg at the far post, it’s a goal, but the ball evades her toe by millimetres. What an entrance to the World Cup that was by Ajibade!
48 min: Germany come back at Nigeria, Buhl very nearly bustling her way into the box after getting on the end of a long clearance by Schult. She earns a corner. Hegering stops Nnadozie claiming on her line, and the whistle blows for a foul. Pressure off.
46 min: An early corner for Nigeria out on the right. It’s sent sailing straight through the box and away from danger. But that’s a statement of intent from the underdogs, who need something to happen quickly.
And we’re off again! Germany get the ball rolling for the second half, having made two changes. Schweers and Leupolz have been replaced by Simon and Buhl. Meanwhile Nigeria have swapped Nwabuoku for Ajibade, who makes her World Cup debut.
Half-time entertainment. The design of Germany’s shirt: a homage to this Atari Video Computer System classic?
HALF TIME: Germany 2-0 Nigeria
And that’s the first half. Germany have reached the quarter-final stage of every World Cup to date, and they’re 45 minutes plus however many extra hours will be added for VAR checks from making it again.
45 min +4: Or do they? Kanu is afforded more space down the right. She hoofs the ball towards Gwinn, who is facing the other way. The ball hits her upper arm. Nigeria want a penalty, and the referee checks, but it’s not happening. The correct decision – Gwinn wasn’t aware, she was right next to Kanu, and her arm was a totally natural position – but the crowd boo nevertheless. The neutrals have taken sides.
45 min +3: The ball’s swung in from the right. Popp rises highest to flick a fine defensive header away from danger. And she’s fouled in doing so. Germany weather the late storm.
45 min +2: A free kick for Nigeria on the halfway line. Ohale launches it long. Germany only half clear, and Ordega is able to cue up a cross from the right. She sends it in low, and Oparanozie tries to flick it home from the edge of the six-yard box. Doorsoun is forced to clip the ball out for a corner.
45 min: Dabritz sends it into the mixer. Oparanozie is forced to head behind. Dabritz takes again, Nnadozie dealing with the second one very well. There will be four extra minutes to play before the break, making up for all that VAR faff.
44 min: A quick throw releases Schuller into plenty of space down the right. She earns a corner. Nigeria simply can’t afford to concede another before half-time.
42 min: Gwinn crosses hard from the right. Huth, ten yards out and level with the right-hand post, attempts to guide the ball into the net with a spectacular scorpion kick. Had that gone in, it would have surely been goal of the tournament. As it was, the ball sailed harmlessly wide. But full marks for ambition.
40 min: German passes aren’t quite sticking right now. That’s a testament to the way Nigeria have bounced back since conceding the second goal. They’ve grown into the game again.
38 min: Okobi whips the ball towards the near post. It’s whistling towards the top left, but Schuller is on the line to head clear. Another header, this time from Schweers, completely quashes the danger. Schult wasn’t getting to that cheeky free kick, though.
37 min: Leupolz bundles into Ihezuo as the Nigerian forward works her way down the left. This is a free kick just to the side of the German box. Trouble ahoy for the two-time champs.
36 min: It’s getting a bit tasty out there, as Popp becomes the latest player to go in the book for a cynical clip on Ordega, who was in the process of turning her and making off into space.
34 min: Now it’s Gwinn’s turn to be clattered, as Ihezuo jumps into her from behind in the midfield. A bit of payback, I’ll be bound. The referee issues a one-last-chance lecture, but no booking.
32 min: Dabritz rolls a gorgeous pass down the inside-right channel, very nearly releasing Gwinn on the overlap. Ihezuo does extremely well to keep up and shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick. Gwinn, slightly exasperated, takes a wild swipe at the ball just before it runs out, and connects with Ihezuo instead. She’s booked.