Under-17 world champions, Nigeria, began their title defence with a 2-0 win over a plucky United States of America (USA) side at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Pradanos in Santiago on Saturday.
Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets were made to work for their opening day success by the Americans who were tough to crack open in the first 45 minutes.
Two second half goals from Chukwudi Agor and Victor Osimhen put paid to the American dream of pulling off an upset against the highly-rated Nigerians.
The USA should have taken the lead in the early minutes of the contest but Haji Wright just blazed the chance over the bar to the relief of the Nigerians.
Though the first half looked evenly matched, it was the USA’s Christian Pulisic who made life difficult for the Nigerian defence with his guile and pace on and off the ball.
But all of Pulisic’s work in the first half produced no goals for the Americans and also counted for nothing when Agor scored five minutes into the restart.
Agor made no mistake firing the ball into the net to give Nigeria the lead following a defensive blunder by the USA.
The Stars and Stripes looked unfazed by Agor’s goal and put their hands up to be counted by venturing forward in search for the equalizer.
In the 61st minute, Osimhen made the scoreline safe for Nigeria. The striker dribbled past two American defenders, and in a composed manner put the ball past William Pusilic in goal for his team’s second of the game.
Osimhen’s goal certainly took the wind out of the sails of the Stars and Stripes, and for the world champions, it renewed their confidence and vigour.
But the Americans saved the worse drama for the last. Three minutes to the end of the contest, Auston Trusty was shown a straight red card for stamping on Osimhen.
The Eaglets will face hosts, Chile, in their second match of the tournament at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina Del Mar on Tuesday.
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