U-20 FIFA WORLD CUP 2023: FLYING EAGLES THROUGH TO SECOND ROUND BEAT ITALY 2-0
NigeriaU-20 national team triumphed over the Young Azzurri of Italy with goals from Salim Fago and Jude Sunday to secure a second victory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at the Mendoza Stadium, Argentina.
Italy was favorites to win the match having defeated Brazil 3-2 in the opening Group D match fixtures. But the stunning display by the Flying Eagles has booked the team a ticket to the next round of the tournament.
In the close contest at the early minutes of the first half Italy had approached the game with discipline, cohesion and precision in passes which eased their build-up to attack. But in response Nigeria’s tactical formation in the defense was marshalled by Abel Ogwuche, while Andrew Eletu played excellently in the midfield and Salim Fago Lawal worked aggressively in attack relieving the Flying Eagles from the early pressure.
The Young Azzurri’s rising intensity almost paid –off in the 12th minute as they mounted pressure to break the dogged Flying Eagles, Cesare Casadei’s effort hit the crossbar.
Afterwards, Flying Eagles took control of the midfield with Daniel Daga and A C Milan midfielder Andrew Eletu combining beautifully in their build-up with good exchange of passes. This eased-off pressure from Abel Ogwuche in the central defense.
In the later minutes of the first half the wing backs of Italy made good crosses and Flying Eagles were lucky not to have conceded a penalty in the 37th minute with a review on VAR indicating non-foul by Solomon Agbalaka after Pafundi’s cross hit his hand. The Stadium Public Announcement system said Pefundi’s had earlier foul and penalty was not given.
The first half regular time and four minutes of added time ended with the score goalless, thanks to referee Piero Maza Gomez for good officiating.
On resumption of the second half Italy made three changes while Nigeria’s Umeh Emmanuel and Nnad substituted Samson Lawal and Ibrahim Muhammadu.
Nnadi impact was felt early in his introduction as his effort created room for Salim Fago scoring the first goal for the Flying Eagles. His perfect drive with the ball after Daniel Bameyi’s brilliant pass despite Riccardo Turicchiia’s challenge found Fago for the header, scoring the first goal for Nigeria.
Italy pressured for an equaliser but the Nigeria defense was alert enough to prevent the young Azzurri from scoring especially at the twilight of the second half.
The time clocking-out with eight minutes added and Nigeria sealed the win with a second goal from Jude Sunday who beat the Italian defender and calmly beat Sebastiano Deplanches for the goal.
With the win Nigeria has qualified to the next round of the competition with a game at spare and will play Brazil in the final Group D match fixture.