Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0 in their first stage FIFA World Cup Group D match at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on Friday, thanks to an Ahmed Musa second half brace.
The Super Eagles took the lead in the 49th minute. From an Iceland corner kick, Nigeria swift counter-attack. Victor Moses sprints down the right wing and crosses towards Ahmed Musa. The Nigerian No7 controls beautifully, before slamming home to give Nigeria the lead.
There were few clear-cut chances in the first half with Nigeria dominating possession. However, Nigeria did not get a single shot at goal in the entire first half.
What a goal from Ahmed Musa! With their first clear chance in this match coming in the second half Nigeria took the lead. Musa – who did not start the first game – paid back the trust of coach Gernot Rohr by scoring the first goal for Nigeria at this World Cup.
Iceland’s most dangerous weapon turned against the team in that goal. A long throw-in from Aron Gunnarsson meant that they were vulnerable and had few men at the back when Nigeria won the ball. A perfect counter-attack.
Ahmed Musa grabs his third World Cup goal (he scored two in a 3-2 defeat to Argentina at Brazil 2014). He becomes the first man to score for the Super Eagles at two different World Cups. His goal today was the first for Nigeria since his second against La Albiceleste, with Nigeria going 272 World Cup minutes of playing time between them.
In the 75th minute, the Nigerian No7 became the second African player to score two World Cup braces, after Roger Milla in 1990.
The second goal came from a fine individual effort from the No7! He bursts clear of Kari Arnason before rounding Hannes Halldorsson. He composes himself before firing into the net.
It’s his fourth goal in two World Cup matches (his previous World Cup game was versus Argentina at Brazil 2014).
Iceland had a real chance to get one back but Gylfi Sigurdsson fired a penalty kick way over the Nigeria bar in the 83rd minute.
Nigeria have now won six games at the World Cup, and all have come against European sides.
Nigeria’s Francis Uzoho is the second youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in World Cup history, older only than Li Chan-Myong (19y 198d) who famously shut-out Italy in 1966.
Nigeria struggled to create clear-cut chances in the first half. After Ahmed Musa’s two goals the young Super Eagles gained a lot of confidence in their attacking efforts though. This will no doubt give them a huge boost ahead of the huge final Group D clash against Argentina on Tuesday. Nigeria have it in their own hands now to advance to the Round of 16. That’s all they could have asked for.
Nigeria came into this game knowing it would be eliminated with a defeat and looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2-0 defeat by Croatia.
Iceland came to the game with more confidence after holding South American powerhouse Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their first ever World Cup finals match.
Argentina was hoping this match will end in a draw, the best outcome for La Albiceleste, allowing them to go into the final group game with a reasonable chance of progressing to the knockout stages – following last night’s 3-0 defeat by Croatia.
The Super Eagles win makes for an intriguing final match day. With Nigeria facing Argentina in Saint Petersburg and Iceland playing Croatia in Rostov-on-Don, there would be a genuine three-way tussle for the final round of 16 spot.
The result lifts Nigeria into second spot in the group with three points. Iceland and Argentina each have one point.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.