Group D | Nigeria Vs Iceland
The Super Eagles of Nigeria ?? recorded their first win in the 2018 edition of The FIFA World Cup 2018 games with a 2-0 victory over The Strákarnir okkar of Iceland ??, in the second round fixtures of Group D.
Watch Nigeria vs Iceland Match Highlights Fifa #WorldCup 2018 Match No 31
— Mudiaga ??. ? (@Mudiaga04) June 22, 2018
Nigeria was at the losing end in the previous round after being beaten 2-0 by Croatia while Iceland was praised for their spirited performance against Argentina in the 1-1 draw.
The Nigeria Vs Iceland game was poised for an all out encounter and despite crawling in the initial stages, it did get there.
The Strákarnir okkar started the game with purpose and nearly went ahead with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s curling effort from a freekick, under five minutes which 19 year old Francis Uzoho had to parry away with a diving save.
They kept the pressure on with excellent deliveries into the Nigerian box and were largely unfortunate not to convert any of the chances.
Opening day hero against Argentina ??, Alfred Finnbogason almost connected with a superb freekick delivery from Sigurdsson, towards the end of the first half but for a timely intervention of Leon Balogun, with the faintest of touches.
1 – Alfred Finnbogason has scored Iceland's first goal in a World Cup finals tournament, just four minutes & 15 seconds after Argentina opened the scoring. Thunderclap.#ARGISL #ISL #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/gXbYZ8FPWT
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018
At the point, despite their possession, The Super Eagles had failed to register a shot on target and didn’t for the rest of the first half of the Nigeria Vs Iceland clash.
The second half however was a different story as both teams started the half with switched mentalities, as well as drive.
The Super Eagles wasted no time in registering 2 efforts on goal, however tame in nature. They seemed to find their rhythm and it wasn’t long before it paid off for their first goal of the Nigeria Vs Iceland game.
It took only 4 minutes for The Super Eagles of Nigeria ?? to find the net, after some lightning break and delivery from Chelsea’s Victor Moses to find Leicester’s Ahmed Musa in the box, who with an incredible first touch controlled the ball and unleashed a rocket ? of a strike past Hannes Thor Halldorsson in goal.
FIFA World Cup 2018: Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0, and Ahmed Musa scored an absolutely gorgeous goal pic.twitter.com/xiBfHUDVnA
— Nsimba Vantoto (@ConsensusAlways) June 22, 2018
In the cause of his celebration, the excited forward accidentally struck Ragnar Sigurdsson on the head with his knee, which left the center back with a gash and in need of treatment.
The Icelanders tried to respond instantly and mounted pressure on the young African side which almost paid off but was repelled by a resilient backline of The Super Eagles.
There was a shout for penalty by The Strákarnir okkar of Iceland ?? when the ball bounced off the turf and rocketed off substitute Ebuehi’s hand after a clearance, but was waved off by match official Matthew Conger of Australia ??.
— Daily Post Nigeria (@DailyPostNGR) June 23, 2018
Wilfred Ndidi unleashed a belter from 32 yards out which was destined for the back of the net but for the intervention of Halldorsson, with a finger tipped save. Replays revealed a slight deflection as well courtesy of Birkir Bjarnason, who attempted to block the shot.
Despite his bravado, Ragnar Sigurdsson bowed out of the Nigeria Vs Iceland game eventually with a head bandage to be replaced by Sverrir Ingi Ingason, in the 65th minute of the game.
Ragnar Sigurdsson was kneed in the back of the head when Musa scored in Nigeria's win, and blood could be seen spewing from his head.He stayed on the field for eight minutes before going off,
No brainer though isn't it?! Sorry. pic.twitter.com/cPaEtwspZU
— Lilian Chan (@bestgug) June 23, 2018
There were a couple of chances missed by both sides thereafter but most culpable were the young West Africans who seemed very determined to take maximum points on the day.
Their wait for a another didn’t take much longer however as goal hero, Ahmed Musa, danced his way to the edge of the box and released a right footed curler which the bar kept out.
He wasn’t to be denied however as he outpaced Birkir Sævarson, rounded Halldorsson and picked his spot, before unleashing another thunderbolt into the right hand corner of the net, leaving the Strákanir okkar shellshocked.
— Manchester united ? Wole ?? (@SirWoley) June 22, 2018
Suddenly, the Group D was thrown open and the fate of The Super Eagles lay squarely in their hands, considering the 3-0 Argentina defeat to Croatia earlier.
The brave world cup newcomers, threw everything at The Super Eagles and just 3 minutes after Ahmed Musa’s second goal, Ebuehi was at the centre of another penalty appeal at the other end.
Having dismissed the claims at first, the referee consulted the VAR system and awarded the penalty which opened the chance for a comeback for Iceland in the Nigeria Vs Iceland game.
Gyfil Sigurdsson stayed at the penalty spot all the while, fully convinced the referee will return with a penalty decision. He then took the penalty, beat the goalkeeper to his right but sailed his shot over the bar!
— FOX Sports Football (@FOXFOOTBALL) June 22, 2018
That put an end to any hopes of a comeback and The Super Eagles controlled the Nigeria Vs Iceland game thereon. Alex Iwobi made an appearance towards the end of the end game as well, to make it his second outing in the competition.
Gernot Rohr’s decision to take criticism, play a 3-5-2 formation and withdraw Mikel Obi to a deeper playmaking role, as well as Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa starting, paved the way for their first victory.
Ahmed Musa became the first Nigerian to score a consecutive brace in the World Cup and is also the highest goal scorer in the competition for his nation.
— JN SHINE™ (@jn_shine) June 23, 2018
Next, The Super Eagles of Nigeria ?? take on Argentina ?? in their final game in the group stages, whilst Iceland ?? will be taking on Croatia ?? in the other fixture as well.
Reactions to the Nigeria Vs Iceland match have been rife all over the world. Here a few quotes;
“My players performed in line with instructions all the same, the fact that the result was not good does not mean they did not do well.”
“I praise them because they played against a very good Nigerian side,… “
Furthermore, he added;
“It is unfortunate that we lost to Nigeria in spite of the way we planned for the game.”
“We did our best to prepare for them, especially the three-man defence line. We even prepared in case they played a four-man defensive formation,… ”
… Heimir Hallgrimsson (Coach)
More on reactions;
“What I like in my young team is humility, solidarity and fighting spirit… “
“I thought before this World Cup we were here to learn. I think this team will be ready in 2022 and this World Cup is coming early, but we have a good chance to win against Argentina”
… Gernot Rohr (Coach)
Former Coach of the Super Eagles Samson Siasia, had this to say as well;
“The team was lucky Sigurdsson missed his penalty because if he scored the pressure would have been more on the team… “
The various permutations for Nigeria ??, Iceland ?? and Argentina ?? to qualify for the round of 16 can be found here, on bbc.com/sport.