Nigeria 2-0 Iceland: match report
Nigeria exploded to life in the second half of their game against Iceland in Group D to put their hopes of qualification to the last 16 in their own hands. Two goals from Ahmed Musa in the second half was enough to do the trick against a subdued Iceland side.
It was headed towards infamy. The first World Cup 2018 to finish as a goalles draw in what was a drab first half. That opening 45 was back-and-forth but with few chances. In fact, Nigeria were the first team to fail to land a shot on target in the first half of the tournament.
It took them just four minutes of the second period before they got one though and it was a corker. Victor Moses sent a cross into the box and Musa took it down with some lovely control. He caught it cleanly on the half-volley and Hannes ThorHalldorsson had no chance.
Iceland upped their effort but they were leaving spaces in behind and Nigeria looked more like getting a second than Hallgrimsson's men looked like levelling matters.
That was the case after 79 minutes when the man of the match, Musa, ran into the box, rounded the keeper and waited for the perfect moment to strike to the back of the net.
Iceland were given the mirage that was a lifeline when VAR awarded them a penalty. The referee initially missed Ebuehi's foul on Finnbogasson but the video technology saved his blushes. It couldn't save Gylfi Sigurdsson's though, as he drove the spot kick over the bar.
As the ball sailed over the bar, Iceland's chances went with it. They can still qualify for the last 16 but it's out of their hands now with Croatia, who will rotate their side, to come. Nigeria play a battered and bruised Argentina in their last game with a win ensuring their passage amongst the tournament's elite.
Nigeria vs Iceland live: as it happened
Nigeria vs Iceland live: preview
Nigeria face Iceland today (17:00 CEST) in a meeting of the two nations who - at least on paper - came into Group D as its underdogs.
However, with Argentina drawing with the Icelanders last weekend and falling to a 3-0 defeat to Croatia yesterday, the two sides now have a chance to put themselves in pole position to join the already-through Croats in the last 16.
Nigeria were disappointing in their 2-0 opening-game defeat to Croatia in Kaliningrad - so much so that John Obi Mikel admitted post-match that the Super Eagles needed to "get back to the drawing board" ahead of their clash with Iceland.
And head coach Gernot Rohr is expected to make changes to his side, with midfielder Ogenyi Onazi in line for a recall after being dropped last Saturday.
"I've a lot of respect for Iceland, they did so well against Argentina - we know it'll be very difficult to beat them," said Rohr before today's clash, adding that he sees similarities between his side and their opponents in Volgograd: "They have great players playing like a team. Like them we don't have the big stars, so we'll be like two collectives."
Iceland were undoubtedly one of the stories of the World Cup's opening round of group-stage fixtures, putting in a highly assured display to hold Argentina as goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson took the headlines with a crucial penalty save from Lionel Messi.
Now, Heimir Hallgrimsson's men have the chance to put one foot in the last 16 at the Argentinians' expense by earning a victory that would put them three points ahead of Jorge Sampaoli's side - and with a significantly superior goal difference.
After suffering a muscle injury in the draw with Argentina, midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson is a doubt for what will be only the second ever meeting between Iceland and Nigeria.
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