Ahmed Musa struck twice to become the first Nigerian to score at two World Cups Friday as the Super Eagles secured a crucial 2-0 win over Iceland, who missed a penalty.
The African side will secure a spot in the knockout stage
if they beat Argentina on Tuesday in Group D’s final
round of fixtures.
A draw would be enough to eliminate the Argentines
but would leave Nigeria’s fate hinging on the outcome
of Iceland’s game against Croatia.
Musa, who came into the starting line-up in place of Alex Iwobi,
announced himself with two of the goals of the tournament so far.
Musa’s sweetly struck half-volley fired Nigeria into the lead
just after half-time before he added a second with
5 minutes to go to make the Group D game safe.
Iceland got a lifeline in the 82nd minute with a VAR-awarded
penalty but dead-ball specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed over the bar.
With Croatia heading the group on six points Nigeria
knew a second defeat would mean elimination and
Iceland started brightest after coach Heimir Hallgrimsson
changed to a 4-4-2 from the 4-5-1 he had
used in the 1-1 draw with Argentina.
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Alfred Finnbogason, who scored the equaliser against
Argentina as a lone striker, was joined up front by
Jon Bodvarsson and the pair quickly made an impact.
Captain Aron Gunnarsson launched a long throw into
the box and, after Bodvarsson had made a nuisance of
himself, a push gave Iceland a free-kick
just outside the area.
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The pace inevitably dropped with the temperature
still a stifling 31 Celsius at the 6:00 pm (1500 GMT)
local time kickoff.
The match became a stalemate until 10 minutes before
half-time when Iceland came close to opening the
scoring but Leon Balogun’s glancing header just did
enough to thwart Gylfi Sigurdsson and Birkir Bjarnason
lurking at the back post.
And on the stroke of half-time Finnbogason came within
a whisker of doubling his World Cup tally when he
flashed wide Gylfi Sigurdsson’s whipped in free-kick.
Gerhot Rohr brought on wing back Tyronne Ebuehi for
Bryan Idowu at the start of the second half and
Nigeria came out full of running.
The tireless Moses was released down the right and his cross was met by Musa who teed up the ball deftly with the outside of his right foot before unleashing an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of the net.
As he wheeled away in celebration his knee caught Ragnar Sigurdsson in the back of the head and the Iceland defender needed treatment, a bandage and a change of shirt after sustaining a nasty cut.
Wilfred Ndidi forced Hannes Halldorsson into a fine fingertip save with a wickedly dipping shot from distance in the 58th minute.
Musa made the game safe with his second, controlling a long ball without breaking stride and beating Kari Arnason before rounding Halldorsson and powering his shot past two covering defenders on the line.