The Flying Eagles defeated the Dominican Republic 2-1 in their opening Group D match at the U-20 World Cup at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza thanks to goals from Samson Lawal and an own goal by Guillermo De Peno.
Nigeria, who have advanced to the U-20 World Cup semifinals twice, is aiming to win their first championship, but Ladan Bosso’s team found it difficult to defeat the Caribbeans in their opening match.
The U-20 World Cup debutants in Argentina scored the opening goal despite the Flying Eagles’ dominance when Edison Azcona converted from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute to give the CONCACAF representatives their first ever goal at the competition.
The 19-year-old shot after sending Chijioke Aniagboso, the goalkeeper, in the other direction.
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Bosso’s boys did a good job of responding to the early setback and were back on equal footing eight minutes later.
When under pressure, De Peno was forced to head into his own net by a long throw from Solomon Abalaka.
Despite continuing to have opportunities, the Flying Eagles were unable to capitalize, and the first half ended in a tie.
Even though they had more possession in the second half, they lacked the strength to pose a threat to their opponents.
But in the 71st minute, Lawal scored to give the Nigerians the lead after the Caribbean team’s Xavier Valdez fumbled an Israel Boatwright backpass.
Following a 1-0 loss to Venezuela in Egypt 2009, Nigeria has now scored in five straight U-20 World Cup opening-day matches.
Since the Dominican Republic was unable to mount its own comeback, Nigeria was able to cruise to victory and earn three crucial points that propelled them to the top of Group D.
On Wednesday, Nigeria and the Dominican Republic will play their respective rematches against Italy and Brazil.
In the other game on Sunday, Colombia defeated Israel 2-1 in a thrilling Group C opener thanks to a last-second goal from Gustavo Puerta.
Dor Turgeman’s penalty-area kick caused Luis Marquinez to turn the wrong way, giving Israel the lead early in the second. At the other end, Oscar Cortes made the exact same play to tie the game.
Up until Puerta deceived his marker and arrowed the ball into the bottom corner, a draw appeared to be in the cards.