Nigeria off the mark in Russia

Nigeria kept their 2018 World Cup hopes alive with two second-half goals from Ahmed Musa securing a 2-0 win over Iceland at the Volgograd Arena on Friday.

  • Nigeria 2 Iceland 0
  • Sigurdsson threatens twice early on
  • Nigeria without a shot in the first half
  • Musa (49′) opens scoring from close range
  • Musa (75′) produces calm finish after hitting bar
  • Sigurdsson (80′) misses from the spot

Match Summary

Gernot Rohr’s side failed to create any chances in the first half, but they upped the tempo in the second period and broke the deadlock just four minutes in through Musa, who also struck the frame of the goal before scoring another fine goal on 75 minutes to register the Nigerians’ first victory in Russia.

Full Report

Iceland made a bright start in Volgograd and tested Francis Uzoho on two occasions early on, both attempts coming from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

After pushing away Sigurdsson’s third-minute free-kick from 22 yards out, Uzoho was well placed to collect the Everton midfielder’s first-time shot from inside the D on six minutes.

Nigeria went on to see plenty of the ball, but they failed to do anything of note with it and didn’t trouble Hannes Halldorsson even once in the first half.

Our Boys looked to hit them on the counter without much success, although they did finish the half strongly. Alfred Finnbogason made contact with Sigurdsson’s free-kick from the right in stoppage time, but saw the ball flash wide of the left post, before Jon Bodvarsson directed a header back across goal and beyond the left post from a deep corner moments later.

The West Africans flew out of the blocks in the second half and threatened within moments of the restart when Oghenekaro Etebo burst forward to test Hannes Halldorsson with a low strike from 25 yards out.

They hit the front just three minutes later as Victor Moses got free down right flank and crossed for Musa, who brought the ball under control with his first touch and slotted home on the half-volley from eight yards out.

The Super Eagles had their tails up now and space opened up for Wilfred Ndidi to line up a shot from 30 yards out that took a deflection off Rurik Gislason before being tipped over the crossbar by Halldorsson on 57 minutes.

Moses then had a pop from 16 yards out on the right nine minutes later, but his effort comfortably cleared the target, while Gislason also failed to keep his shot down from 20 yards out at the other end.

The Nigerians were soon on the attack again as William Troost-Ekong steered a stooping header well wide of the near post from Moses’ cross on the right in the 70th minute, before Leon Balogun powered a header over from a 72nd-minute corner.

Musa was unfortunate to see his curler from 19 yards out rattle the bar on 74 minutes, but he made no mistake with his next chance moments later. The striker was sent clear by Kenneth Omeruo’s long ball down the left flank and he raced away from Kari Arnason, rounded Halldorsson before producing a cool finish inside the right post.

Another VAR-awarded penalty gave Heimir Hallgrimsson’s men the chance to get back into the contest 10 minutes from time, after Tyronne Ebuehi tangled with Alfred Finnbogason inside the area. The referee overturned his original decision not to point to the spot, but Sigurdsson put his penalty over in an attempt to pick out the top-right corner of the goal.

Nigeria survived late pressure from Iceland as Uzoho got down to parry away Finnbogason’s strike from a tight angle on the left two minutes from time, before Sverrir Ingason sent a header well over from Gíslason’s cross on the right in stoppage time.