The Flying Eagles, representing Nigeria, have advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2023 U20 World Cup. With an impressive 2-0 victory over Italy in Mendoza. This victory places them at the top of Group D with six points from two matches. While Italy drops to second place with three points.
In the upcoming match, Brazil and the Dominican Republic will face off after both teams suffered defeats in their opening group game.
Nigeria took the lead in the 60th minute when Salim Fago Lawal scored a diving header off a cross from Emmanuel Umeh. The team extended their advantage in stoppage time. As Jude Sunday capitalized on a long thrust from goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso, outpaced his marker, and calmly slotted the ball home.
During the second half, both Daniel Bameyi, the team captain, and Jude Sunday had close opportunities to score before the breakthrough goal. Bameyi’s shot was deflected by the goalkeeper. While Sunday’s lofted effort was headed to safety with the goalkeeper out of position.
Although Italy had more possession in the first half. Nigeria posed a greater threat in the attacking third and created more scoring chances. In the 27th minute, Jude Sunday fired a low shot narrowly missing the target. And just four minutes later, Salim Fago was denied by the Italian goalkeeper.
In the 36th minute, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) overturned a penalty decision against the Flying Eagles. When Solomon Agbalaka was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. Earlier in the move leading to the penalty. An Italian player had also handled the ball, leading to a fortunate turn of events for Nigeria.
In the closing moments of the first half, goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso made an outstanding save to deny a powerful shot, ensuring that both teams entered the halftime break with the score tied at 0-0.
Flying Eagles Starting XI against Italy (4-3-3):
Defenders: Agbalaka, Bameyi (Captain), Frederick, Ogwuche
Midfielders: Daga, Eletu (Substituted by Joshua John in the 67th minute), Lawal (Substituted by Nnadi at halftime)
Forwards: Jude Sunday, Fago (Substituted by Sarki in the 63rd minute), Ibrahim Mohammed (Substituted by Emmanuel Umeh at halftime)
Keywords: Flying Eagles, U20 World Cup, knockout stage, Nigeria, Italy, Group D, victory, Brazil, Dominican Republic, goal, captain, penalty, VAR, goalkeeper, starting XI