One of the most iconic matches of the 15th edition of the FIFA World Cup takes centre stage as the world football governing body cast a look back at Nigeria’s second-round matchup against the European heavyweights, Soccernet.ng reports.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, has taken to their official website to relive the enthralling encounter between then-African champions Super Eagles and Italy.
Fans have voted Nigeria’s Round of 16 match against the three-time world champions among the World Cup’s most iconic games, says FIFA as part of its #WorldCupAtHome campaign.
Appearing as one of three teams – the others being Saudi Arabia and Greece – making their debuts at the global showpiece, Nigeria stunned the world with a 3-0 defeat of a Hristo Stoichkov-inspired Bulgaria in their opening group match.
A 2-0 victory over Greece in the last group game sent Clemens Westerhoff’s men top of Group D, despite losing 2-1 to Diego Maradona’s Argentina on matchday two.
Securing a knockout round spot in their first-ever appearance at the tournament was already an exceptional achievement, but Nigeria’s dynamic style threatened to take them further into the latter rounds.
But Italy, powered on by their star forward Roberto Baggio, ambushed the Africans in a second-round tie that would live forever in memories.
Having qualified as Group E’s third-placed team, the Azzurri started on the back foot in that Round of 16 tie and fell behind to an Emmanuel Amuneke strike in the 15th minute.
With a quarterfinals ticket moments within the Super Eagles’ reach, a momentary loss of concentration allowed Baggio to steal in and equalize.
Late in the first half of extra time, the Italian playmaker scored again with a penalty kick to break Nigerian hearts and send Italy through.