The U.S. Under-17 women’s national team’s run at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup came to a painful and disappointing end with a 4-3 penalty kick shootout loss to Nigeria after drawing 1-1 in regulation in the quarterfinals in Navi Mumbai, India on Friday.

While the U.S. dominated for long stretches of the match, outshooting the Flamingoes, 27-8, and enjoying a 15-4 corner-kick advantage, the Americans only put three shots on goal as the lack of efficiency in front of the net cost them.

In the shootout, Nigeria jumped out to an early lead after the U.S. missed its second attempt. Goalkeeper Valentina Amaral saved Nigeria’s third attempt to pull the USA even, but another VAR review went against the Americans, ruling that Amaral had jumped off her goal line early. While Nigeria missed its fourth attempt, Chikasmo Jiwuaku’s save of the USA’s fifth shot from Riley Jackson meant that Omamuzo Edafe’s goal, the Flamingoes’ fourth, would be enough to seal advancement to the semifinals.

Nigeria scored the opening goal on a penalty kick after a questionable VAR review. U.S. forward Amalia Villarreal equalized just before halftime, but the Americans could not turn its dominance into another goal. So, the match went straight to penalties.

The match marked the USA’s first appearance in the U-17 WWC knockout stage since 2008 while Nigeria advanced to its first-ever semifinal at the tournament, where it will face the winner of Colombia-Tanzania.

Due to a thunderstorm in Navi Mumbai, the match kicked off nearly two hours late. U.S. head coach Natalia Astrain made five changes from the Starting XI that faced Morocco to secure the USA’s first-place finish in Group A.

The Flamingoes got on the board first via a VAR review. In the 25th minute, defender Ella Emri dispossessed Nigeria forward Amina Bello on the very left edge of the penalty box. Referee Iuliana Demetrescu did not call a foul and let play go on, but then signaled for VAR. After a lengthy review, she pointed to the spot, deeming Emri’s play a foul inside the penalty area. Edafe converted to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead midway.

The USA responded to the deficit, its first of the 2021-22 cycle, with fervor, sending numbers forward on numerous threatening attacking runs. Gamero and Martinho continued to be a menacing duo, with the pair nearly finding an equalizer in the 28th as a ball in from the winger ping-ponged around the Nigeria defense and fell to Martinho for a shot.

The U.S. created a number of stellar chances off of set pieces. One of the best came in the 35th, when captain Riley Jackson swung a ball inside the box that Nigeria attempted to clear, but flew to Martinho, who headed it down and controlled it before firing a shot that hit off the right post.

Gamero tallied the equalizer in the 40th minute. Pouncing on a loose ball, she played up to Villarreal on the run towards goal in the right side of the penalty area and the Michigan native fired it inside the far post to bring the USA level entering the break.

Astrain made all five substitutions in the second and the fresh legs made a significant impact in the push for a game-winning goal. In the first few minutes, the renewed USA attack seemed to be knocking on the door. Several balls lingered dangerously inside the Nigerian six-yard box, including a shot from Villarreal off a pass from midfielder Charlotte Kohler that bounced around the Nigerian defense.

Gamero nearly found the winner in the 84th minute. Driving down the left wing, she ran past two defenders and beat the goalkeeper with her rolling shot, but Nigeria’s Miracle Usani was well-positioned on the line and got her foot on the ball to make a game-saving deflection.