Nigeria kept their knockout hopes alive with 2-0 win over Iceland
Nigeria brought their World Cup campaign back to life with a 2-0 win over Iceland at Volgograd. The first half saw Nigeria not taking a single shot, thus making them the first team in the competition not to have a shot in the first 45 minutes.
Iceland had some really good scoring opportunities in the first half but could not cash on them. Teenage goalkeeper Francis Uzoho made two saves from Gylfi Sigurdsson before the Nordics foiled their other scoring opportunities.
After the interval, Nigeria burst into the game. Just four minutes into the second half, Ahmed Musa opened the scoring for The Super Eagles with a beautiful shot. Musa had a chance to make it 2-0 with a curling shot outside the penalty area but his strike hit the crossbar.
Moments after his missed attempt, Musa doubled Nigeria’s lead. The World Cup debutants had a golden chance to pull one back when they were awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute.
Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up to take it but his shot was high and way above the crossbar.
Nigeria’s win puts them back in contention for a place in the final 16 as even a draw against Argentina will put them into the next round.
Let’s take a look at 3 things that Nigeria did right against Iceland.
#3 Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty miss
Iceland had some really good scoring chances during the first half. A few of them were saved by goalkeeper Uzoho and some weren’t converted. Even though Nigeria dominated possession, Iceland were the better team in terms of scoring chances geberated.
In the second half however, Nigeria burst into life and were bettering Iceland in every aspect of the game. Just four minutes into the half, Nigeria took the lead thanks to a fine goal from Ahmed Musa.
Then with 15 minutes to spare, Musa struck another goal to double Nigeria’s lead. Iceland were now out of sorts.
However, the Strakarnir okkar found a golden chance to score after they salvaged a penalty with a VAR review when substitute Tyronne Ebuehi fouled Alfred Finnbogasson.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was entrusted to take the penalty and give the World Cup debutants a glimmer of hope .
The goalkeeper dived in the wrong direction but Sigurdsson’s spot-kick was well above the Nigerian goal and Iceland foiled their best scoring opportunity of the game.
#2 Iceland’s missed opportunities throughout the game
Nigeria may have won the game but they didn’t look in a position to do so during the first half. Iceland had numerous scoring chances in the first 45 minutes.
In just the second minute of the match, Gylfi Sigurdsson took a fine free-kick which was well saved by goalie Francis Uzoho. A few minutes later, the Evertonian took another shot which was saved by Uzoho.
Then with 10 minutes to go, Birkir Sævarsson made a fine run from the right flank and crossed into the Nigerian goal where Birkir Bjarnason and
Jón Daði Böðvarsson were present. Bjarnason had the best chance to take a shot but he couldn’t get his left foot to touch the ball.
With seconds to go before injury time kicked in, Iceland had a free kick which went towards the Nigerian goal. The ball went towards Finnbogasson who was unable to get a touch on it. Had he even tapped it, Iceland would have been a goal up.
Unfortunately, Iceland could not come up with those many scoring chances in the second half.
#1 Ahmed Musa’s Midas touch
Nigeria were pretty dull during the first half as they didn’t have a shot on goal during then. However, the second half was simply sensational for the Africans.
With just four minutes into the half, Victor Moses made a run on the right flank and crossed the ball towards Ahmed Musa. The Leicester City striker on loan to CSKA Moscow first controlled the ball beautifully before blasting it on the half volley past Hannes Halldorsson into the net to give Nigeria the lead. Musa scored his third World Cup goal and surpassed Daniel Amokachi and Emanuel Amuneke to become Nigeria’s highest scorer in World Cup finals.
In the 74th minute, Musa had a chance to double the lead when he hit a curling shot from outside the penalty area. However, he hit the crossbar.
Moments later, Musa made a brilliant run to the Iceland goal. After out-running the defenders he went past Halldorsson and shot home to double Nigeria’s lead and score his fourth World Cup goal.
Musa was deservedly declared the Man of the Match. Argentina better be wary of Musa as in their last World Cup meeting at Porto Alegre, Musa scored a brace.