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U.S. ‘two’ good for Flying Eagles

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Sebastian Soto (right) and Chris Richards celebrating a goal against Nigeria at the on-going FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland…yesterday.


Suddenly what looked like an easy passage to the second round of the on-going FIFA U-20 World Cup last weekend now seems a Herculean task for Nigeria. Reason: The United States (U.S.) defeated the Flying Eagles 2-0 in their second game of the competition yesterday.

Nigeria defeated Qatar 4-0 in their first game and a win yesterday would have taken the Flying Eagles to the second round with a game to spare. Instead, the Flying Eagles must now beat Ukraine in their last game on Thursday if they hope to move on in the competition.

Yesterday’s game at the Stadion Miejski, Bielsko Biala exposed the uncoordinated Nigerians to the darting runs of Sebastian Soto, who scored twice to give Tab Ramos side a welcome victory after a 1-2 loss to Ukraine in their opening game.It would have been 3-0 but for the video assistant referee (VAR), which called back a goal for the U.S. in the first half.

Soto, starting in place of midfielder Brandon Servania, scored either side of halftime, with his second goal the fastest recorded in the second stanza in this competition.Nigeria’s Coach, Paul Aigbogun made one change from the side that trounced Qatar last time out, with Jerome Akor replacing Tijani Muhammad upfront. But the U.S, playing a 4-3-3 pattern showed more cohesion as the combination of Tim Weah (George Weah’s son), Konrad de la Fuente, Paxton Pomykal and Alex Mendez provided the ammunition the elusive Soto needed to wreck the Flying Eagles.

The game was barely 18 minutes old when Soto headed home off an Alexis Mendez.Nigeria rallied to get an immediate equalizer, but skipper Ikouwem Utin was denied by U.S goalkeeper, Brady Scott. The U.S. displayed quick passing in tight spaces as well as strong passing from Chris Durkin to spray the ball around the field from his position as a holding midfielder.

Nigeria was saved from conceding a second goal by the offside flag when Soto’s strike was struck out in the 31st minute, as Tim Weah was adjudged offside on the initial cross into the box. The Flying Eagles threatened the U.S. goal a few times before halftime, including a strike that cannoned off the crossbar and out of play. The first half ended with 1-0 advantage to the U.S.

The U.S’s second goal came less than 45 seconds into the second half when Chris Glouster dribbled into Nigeria’s box unchallenged and squared to Soto, who took a few steps before dinking the ball over Olawale Oremade. Nigeria had a penalty overturned by VAR in the 65th minute when McKenzie bundled over Kingsley Michael in the box.

After a lengthy VAR check, the penalty was wiped out due to an offside player.Nigeria must now beat Ukraine on Thursday to be sure of making the second round. A draw will suffice for Nigeria on goals difference as the Ukrainians could only manage a 1-0 defeat of Qatar, which lost 0-4 to Nigeria.


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