Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were denied twice by the woodwork as they fell 0-2 to Brazil in their last Group D match of the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup in Argentina, Soccernet.ng reports.
Goals from Jean Pedroso and Arsenal’s Marquinhos condemned the Flying Eagles to their first defeat at the tournament.
How it happened
Nigeria stood toe-to-toe with Brazil in the opening stages and should have been deservedly ahead within the opening ten minutes.
The Flying Eagles broke forward with pace. Emmanuel Umeh danced past his marker into the box and sent a delicious cross to the back post, which Jude Sunday met with an audacious volley. His effort struck the bar and touched the line before bouncing out. And VAR had to check to confirm that the ball had not crossed the line.
Brazil responded quickly on the counter and found themselves three against one, but Marcos Leonardo’s final ball let him down.
Brazil slowly gained the upper hand, winning several corners and free kicks in dangerous areas. The Flying Eagles, however, showed good defensive resilience to repel their opponents’ attacks.
Nigeria had a sight of goal midway through the half as Sunday and Salem Fago combined well before the latter fired a shot from the edge of the box that did not trouble Brazil’s goalkeeper Mycael.
On the half-hour mark, the Brazilians missed their best chance when Leonardos somehow kicked over the crossbar from a fantastic Bird cross with goalkeeper Aniagboso beaten.
Nigeria missed a good chance from a well-placed freekick, and Brazil made them pay two minutes before halftime. From a corner kick, Jean Pedroso rose highest to head the South Americans in front.
The Brazilians were not done, and minutes after their first, they got their second. Arsenal forward Marquinhos got on the end of another swift Brazil counter-attack to fire under Aniagboso.
Aniagboso came to Flying Eagles’ rescue ten minutes into the second half, making a fantastic save to deny Brazil a third goal.
Substitute Haliru Sarki nearly reduced the deficit for Nigeria, but his well-struck shot from just outside the box was pushed to the crossbar by goalkeeper Mycael.
Nigeria’s hard work after the break, however, did not pay off as Ladan Bosso’s boys failed to score in a match for the first time at Argentina 2023.
With the defeat, the Flying Eagles stumbled from the top of Group D to third place, with Brazil finishing as the group leader. Italy also defeated the Dominican Republic 3-0 in the other match to steal into second place.
But Nigeria progressed to the Round of 16 as one of the third-best-placed teams, where they will face either hosts Argentina or the United States.