22 June 2018

Nigeria: Musa Carries Nigeria as Super Eagles Punish Iceland 2-0 at World Cup

Photo: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA/BackpagePix
Scorer Ahmed Musa and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa celebrate Nigeria's 2-0 win over Iceland at a World Cup game in Volgograd.

Ahmed Musa scored a brilliant second-half double to fire Nigeria to a 2-0 victory over Iceland and throw the second qualification spot in Group D wide open with one game remaining. What a good way to redeem themselves.

Nigeria came into the game in their stylish snazzy kit, which everyone has been raving about. The kit might have super powers because the way they played in the second half was out of this world.

The match started very well with the Super Eagles having most ball possession in the first half, with no shots on target. Iceland were creating more chances to have a shot at goal.

Nigerian coach Gernot Rohr changed the lineup and opted for a back three defensive. John Obi Mikel played in an offensive midfield position and seemed to be playing a little deeper than he did against Croatia.

Even though the Super Eagles's lineup changes were appealing, it was a poor showing from the team, who did next to nothing. For a game that had so much promise, it failed to deliver in the first half. Little did we know what a treat was coming later.

At 33 minutes in, Nigeria were looking more and more comfortable, having found their rhythm, albeit without doing anything with it. They managed to repel the attacks on them. But they had too many missed opportunities.

Toothless for much of the first half

In summary: the first half had nothing to really write about - just 22 players chasing the ball up and down the ground.  There wasn't any much goalmouth action. No shots on target really…  Nigeria was still in a tough spot.  Both sides were trying hard to break the other down, although they players gave a good fight.  A big second half to come?

Then second half came

Maybe Gernot Rohr gave the Super Eagles some tough talking during the break. The Super Eagles came back not as as "slay queens" - but with fire, energy and renewed spirit. They looked so positive and energetic.

IT'S A GOAL - Nigeria 1-0 Iceland 

Let's talk about determination or the fear of having to pack their bags.  Ahmed Musa fired a terrific goal to put Nigeria ahead. Unbelievable!

Victor Moses put a fantastic ball in and Ahmed Musa controlled it with an outstanding finish on the half-volley. Finally the Super Eagles showed us the  attacking ability we know they have. Talk about team work… absolutely sublime...

Whilst still celebrating that impressive goal, we hardly noticed Iceland's Ragnar Sigurdsson taking a nasty accidental blow to the back of the head from Ahmed Musa's knee. The defender had to receive treatment and get strapped up. However, at the 64th minute,  Ragnar Sigurdsson succumbed to his injuries and was replaced by Sverrir Ingason.

Musa's goal seemed to give the team more confidence. They were speeding up their attacking efforts and certainly didn't hesitate to look for the direct way to the goal. There was no going back for the Eagles - a fair warning to Argentina to start packing.

Moses was so influential

It's good to give credit where it is due. Victor Moses was a threat every time he got the ball. The Chelsea wing-back was impressive. Literally everywhere you looked, he was there and attacking; a threat when delivering set-pieces.

What did Ahmed Musa eat - GOALLLLLL - Musa doubles lead with another sexy goal

What a goal from Ahmed Musa at the 75th minute, a brilliant strike after he fooled the Iceland keeper.  He took and controlled the ball to the back of the net. Musa becomes the second African player to score two World Cup braces, after Roger Milla in 1990.  He was on fire!

The Nigerian team that played the 1994 World Cup in the United States is widely considered the country's finest team in history. But what we just witnessed was some magic.  They played with confidence that is uncommon among African sides.

PENALTY TO ICELAND - and they miss

After an on-pitch VAR review at the 82nd-minute, Iceland were given a penalty. And what a shame that Gylfi Sigurdsson did not take advantage of the opportunity.  Sigurdsson shot over the top of the bar, denied his team a chance to try to force a late comeback.

What can happen in Group D

At every World Cup, a group is stamped with the ominous "death" label and in Russia that designation has fallen on Group D - which consists of Nigeria, Croatia, Argentina and Iceland.

The Super Eagles are still fighting to reach the knockout round. They went into the tournament as arguably Africa's most successful side in its history and the only nation from the continent to reach the second round on three previous occasions. The Super Eagles play their final Group D fixture against the Argentines on June 26. They will meet the South Americans for the fifth time and Argentina have won all their previous meetings at the World Cup.

The Super Eagles are favourites among the African teams, tipped to go further. Even Marcus, the psychic pig, picked them to reach the finals. Argentina's chances of going home are high, if the Eagles play like how they just did.

The victory moves Nigeria up to second in the Group D table on three points behind Croatia (six points), with Iceland and Argentina on one point apiece.

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