Nigeria defeated Iceland in Volgograd this afternoon, with the Super Eagles proving their worth in a very positive performance. Iceland, on the other hand, looked shaky, and were clearly the lesser team of the two nations. With this, the competition for the second qualifying shot has been blown wide open.
Nigeria- Musa 49′, 75′
Uzoho, Omeruo, Ekong, Balogun, Idowu (Ebuehi 45′), Moses, Mikel, Ndidi, Etebo (Iwobi 90′), Musa, Ihenacho (Ighalo 84′)
Halldorsson, Magnusson, R Sigurdsson (Ingason 64′), Arnason, Saevarsson, Bjarnason, Gunnarsson (Skulason 87′), G Sigurdsson, Gislason, Bodvarsson (Sigurdason 70′), Finnbogason
Finally, we get to see those lovely Nigerian kits in practice. It was Iceland, however, who enjoyed the better start to the game, with Uzoho forced into an early save of a dangerous Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick. The first thunderous Viking Clap reverberated through the stadium as both sides enjoyed periods of possession. Nigeria already looked more organised than the undisciplined team they fielded against Croatia.
The half progressed with no real chances for either side. Both teams seemed to be willing to bide their time. The Iceland counter attack looked impressive, however, and could give Nigeria problems throughout the game. Furthermore, Nigeria certainly looked more threatening than they appeared in their opening game. A goal could have been in the future of either team at this stage.
In this first half, it was impressing to see the lack of simulation. Other than a few examples- looking at you, Victor Moses- these players seemed to be focusing on winning the ball back after a challenge rather than feigning injury for a free-kick. Some nations at this World Cup certainly need to take note in this respect. Good, clean football- and no need for VAR just yet.
The half-time whistle blows, and despite some good chances for both teams, neither side manage to break the deadlock. Half time, Nigeria 0-0 Iceland.
The second half nearly began in nightmare fashion for Iceland, as Etebo found himself with a free run at goal. His attempt, however, was saved by ‘The Great Wall of Halldorsson’, as I’ve decided to call him.
Nigeria ultimately would capitalise on this momentum when another poorly defended Nigerian run allowed the ball to be crossed to Ahmed Musa. The Leicester striker controlled the ball superbly and slammed the ball into the roof of the net. This goal will draw celebrations not only from Nigerian fans, but also from Argentines. A loss for Iceland here would vastly increase the odds for progression for Argentina. Game on.
Iceland, however, appeared to be fully on the ropes as the second half progressed. Ahmed Musa was in the form of his life, with one of his shots rattling against the crossbar before, less than a minute later, he takes the ball around Halldorsson(I’ve given up on the nickname) and rifles the ball into the net. A glimmer of hope for Nigeria and Argentina. Iceland have found themselves with a mountain to climb.
VAR couldn’t go one game without stealing the spotlight, with Iceland being awarded a penalty after video review. Iceland’s disappointing afternoon continued, however, with Sigurdsson’s effort blazing far over the bar. The Ice-men were well and truly melting.
That’s all she wrote, unfortunately. A win for both Nigeria and Argentina here, with the second qualifying spot of the group now wide open for the taking. All three non-qualified teams can now qualify if results go their way. Full time, Nigeria 2-0 Iceland.
The Lazy Fan View
A very strong showing from the Super Eagles today. The pace of Musa proved to be instrumental in both goals, and ultimately their brilliant work-rate won them this game. Their players simply did not stop running. Unfortunately, their World Cup dream could come to an end in their final game against Argentina, but at least the fans have this performance to remark upon.
On the flip-side, Iceland performed fairly poorly today- not at all like their brilliant opening performance. Ultimately, they were dominated by the pacey Nigerian attackers, whilst many golden Icelandic chances were wasted. The Scandinavians just lacked that final clinical touch today. I hate to say it, but their chances against Croatia in their final game do not look favourable. This next game may be their last in this tournament.