Nigeria makes this World Cup all the more interesting as their 2-0 win over Iceland at the Volgograd Arena opens up Group D with Croatia already qualified.
Nigeria sealed the first victory of their 2018 World Cup campaign when they beat Iceland 2-0 at the Volgograd Arena on Friday. The Super Eagles started their campaign in a disappointing fashion with a 2-0 defeat against Croatia but the win will give them a major boost as they aim qualification to the knockout rounds.
Following a first half that would be easily forgotten, Nigeria came out all guns blazing and were convincing winners on the day. Ahmed Musa struck the opener just after the restart with a sensational finish in order to hand Nigeria the lead. And the game was all but sealed when Musa secured his brace with a calm finish after round rounding the goalkeeper in the 75th minute.
The win gives Nigeria valuable three points which takes them to the second spot in the table with Iceland and Argentina sitting in third and fourth respectively. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we pick out three players who stood out the most in Nigeria’s easy win over their European opponents.
Arguably the most active Nigerian attacker on the field, Victor Moses was a quintessential figure for his side in the attacking department. The Chelsea star made a plethora of dangerous runs from the right-hand side, which not only caused trouble for the Icelandic defence but also destabilised their rigid defensive formation.
He also made a host of crosses, most of which proved to be quite a handful for Iceland’s defence. Always a menacing figure down the flanks, Moses completed four dribbles, made three clearances, three blocks and completed 57 passes on a game that was completely dominated by the West-African giants.
His good form will come as a sigh of relief for Nigerian fans and coaches alike, especially after a dreadful performance in the opener against Croatia. The 27-year-old is one of the most prominent figures in the team and his performance will likely shape Nigeria’s fate in their final game against Argentina.
It was a tough choice between two of Nigeria’s midfielders in Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenkaro Etebo but we have picked the Leicester City midfielder as the more influential figure in today’s match. An ever-present figure in the Nigerian midfield, Wilfred Ndidi was involved in basically everything which revolved in the middle third of the pitch.
Partnering alongside Stoke City midfielder Oghenkaro Etebo, who has already earned himself quite a reputation of late, Wilfred Ndidi helped the Super Eagles dominate their opposition throughout the course of the game. He played a critical role in Nigeria’s possession play and also helped out with some stunning tackling and ball-winning in the centre of the park.
In fact, the 21-year-old made as much as eight tackles in the game, which was more than any other player on the field, whilst making nine defensive actions throughout the game. In addition, his rasping effort in the second half also forced out a save from Iceland keeper.
Last but definitely not the least, Ahmed Musa proved out to be the main difference between the two sides, as the CSKA Moscow attacker scored two brilliant goals to snatch all three points for his nation.
Aside from scoring two valuable goals, Musa was involved in most of Nigeria’s attacking moments, even though he did fail to link with up partnering striker Kelechi Iheanacho at times. Musa’s three shots are joint highest in the game while he also attempted four dribbles.
Simply put, he was the real ‘Super Eagle’, who took the full responsibility to unlock the rigid and sturdy Icelandic defence. However, Nigerian head coach Gernot Rohr will be hoping that the former Leicester attacker will be able to build on his stunning performance in the next game against Argentina.
One fact has been proven again in Russia, Ahmed Musa is practically unplayable when he is in full flow.