Flying Eagles defeat Italy 2-0 against the predictions of the experts to advance to the second round.
Nobody gave them a chance against an Italian side rated as one of the most compact teams at the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, but the Flying Eagles showed yesterday that football is not mathematics.
Italy defeated mighty Brazil 3-2 in their opening game of the competition on Sunday, while Nigeria struggled to a 2-1 victory over minnows, Dominican Republic.
The manner of Italy’s victory over Brazil, romping into a 3-0 lead before the Samba boys scored two late goals, gave pundits the false impression that it would take exceptional ability to subdue the Azzurrini.
Actually, the Nigerian boys displayed exceptional ability when after a barren first half, they upped their game to score two classy goals.
The dance to glory started in the 60th minute when Samson Lawal crossed a tantalising ball for an unmarked Salem Fago to nod into Italy’s net for the opener.
Buoyed by their fortune, the Nigerians gained more confidence and began to display a compact passing style that was lacking in their first game.
Stunned by the goal, the Italians went forward for a possible equaliser, but that decision paved way for Nigeria’s second goal of the game.
Goalkeeper Kingsley Aniagboso halted an Italian foray into Nigeria’s defence and sent a long ball above every other person for Jude Sunday to pursue. The young attacker raced forward, steadied himself before putting the ball beyond Italy’s goalkeeper to make scores 2-0 deep into stoppage time.
With the win, Nigeria has qualified for the second round of the competition, as their unbeatable six points make impossible for any of the teams to overtake on top of Group D.