U-20 World Cup: Flying Eagles soar into last 16 with brilliant win over Italy
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles secured an impressive 2-0 win over Italy in their second Group D meeting in Mendoza to book their place in the Round of 16 of the competition with a game to spare.
After an impressive showing in the opener against Dominican Republic resulted in a win, Ladan Bosso’s Flying Eagles were up against an Italy side that dominated Brazil in their opener.
The match started at a high tempo with both sides looking to outfox each other. The Europeans came closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Chelsea midfielder Cesare Casadei struck the crossbar with a brilliant attempt.
The Flying Eagles grew into the game, and Lawal Salim Fago forced the Italian goalkeeper into a fine stop at his near post.
Italy were unlucky to not receive a penalty as the half drew to a close when Solomon Agbalaka handled the ball in the box, but the VAR noticed an earlier handball by an Italian player in the same phase of play.
The Flying Eagles emerged for the second half with greater urgency and took the lead on the stroke of the hour after good work from substitute Emmanuel Umeh. The Botev Plovdiv forward received the ball in Italy’s penalty area before clipping a cross to the back post for Fago to slam home a header emphatically.
The Nigerian team lost one of its most influential players in Victor Eletu when he pulled up with an injury shortly after the goal and was stretchered off the pitch.
Italy came close to equalising on a number of occasions but the Nigerian rearguard was on top of the situation every time they made a foray forward.
The Flying Eagles took advantage of their opponents’ search for an equaliser and scored a second in the fifth of eight added minutes. A long punt forward from goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso was controlled by forward Jude Sunday, and the youngster slid his finish under the Italian goalkeeper to round off the scoring.
The Flying Eagles have now claimed two wins from their first two matches and are all but through to the next round. They will face Brazil in the final group game seeking to finish the first round with a 100% record.