Musa’s brace sees off ‘stubborn’ Iceland in Volgograd




A brace from Ahmed Musa helped Nigeria to a 2-0 victory over Iceland at the Volgograd Arena on Friday.

Musa grabbed his third and fourth World Cup goals (he scored two in a 3-2 defeat to Argentina at Brazil 2014) to become the first man to score for the Super Eagles at two different World Cups.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Croatia. His wards performance in the defeat to Croatia was pretty lacklustre and not even the introduction of Premier League talents like Kelechi Iheanacho was enough to give them a real foothold in the game.

Iceland were boosted by the fact that Gylfi Sigurdsson came through the Argentina game unscathed. The Everton midfielder, who is returning to fitness after a nasty knee injury, was able to play the full 90 minutes and even popped up with a trademark assist.

Last night in Group D, Croatia put Argentina to the sword – leaving the South Americans on the brink of a World Cup group stage exit. Three second-half goals were enough to guide Zlatko Dalić’s men into the last 16.

On the other side of the coin, Nigeria were comfortably beaten by Croatia. The Croatians were in control from the get go and found an opening before half-time after Oghenekaro Etebo, unfortunately, guided the ball into his own net. Dalic’s men pressed for a second but wasteful efforts saw them wait until the later stages of the game to wrap up the points. Luka Modric stroked home from the penalty spot with less than 20 minutes to go to secure an opening game win for Vatreni.

The game in Volgograd lived up to it billing as the two sides strode out of the blocks with full force.

In the third minute, Sigurdsson whipped a free kick towards the top-left corner but goalkeeper Francis Uzoho punched clear. Sigurdsson swung in again but Uzoho gathered comfortably.

Nigeria knocked the ball about at the moment, belatedly getting a feel for the game. A long ball towards Bryan Idowu came to nothing in the ninth minute as the Arena erupted with the Mexican Wave.

Iceland camped in their third – a couple of balls hacked clear – coming straight back. Iheanacho dropped deep to bother Iceland’s defence and Victor Moses was working that right channel well.

Gernot Rohr casually kitted out in jeans and polo shirt waved his side forward.

Bjarnason shaped to shoot at the back post after a poor headed clearance but it was a tough volley to execute and the ball flew high over the bar.

Iceland pumped balls into the box by all kinds of means and Saevarsson drilled a cracking diagonal one across the face of goal. Blue shirts piled in but it was Bjarnason who looked best placed to connect but couldn’t manage it.

The Eagles had the chance to swing in at the other end but Musa’s delivery had too much on it, despite Mikel’s best chasing efforts. The Eagles were short on quality where it mattered most.

Iceland pumped balls into the box by all kinds of means and Saevarsson drilled a cracking diagonal one across the face of goal. Blue shirts piled in but it was Bjarnason who looked best placed to connect but couldn’t manage it.

There was a rare chance for Nigeria to swing in at the other end but Musa’s delivery had too much on it, despite Mikel’s best chasing efforts. The Eagles were short on quality where it mattered most.

Bjarnason, again, beat Leon Balogun at the byline but there was no-one gambling to meet it as he cuts back.

A super delivery from Sigurdsson met the Finnbogason – who did not to stick his head on it and the ball bounced off his back.

The first half of the Group D match ended 0-0 with all to play for. Iceland started and finished brightly with no goal. Nigeria bossed the possession but didn’t have a shot on target.

The Eagles gingered by the halftime pep talk of Rohr attacked in numbers.

Oghenekaro Etebo took aim with a cracking shot which was well taken by the goalkeeper.

Nigeria went ahead in the 49th minute and what a goal it was from Ahmed Musa. Ironically, Nigeria broke from another big Iceland throw as Moses scampered down the right. Musa stretched to control the ball in, readjusted and then lashed into the back of the net.

The busy Sigurdsson was at the byline, desperate to craft a quick response. He wanted a penalty when the ball hit Ebuehi on the elbow but the substitute knew nothing about that.

Wilfred Ndidi then took aim but the Thunderclap started back up as Iceland and their supporters turned up the pressure again. Sigurdsson clipped a corner into the box but Moses helped out and cleared.

Little give-and-go saw Gislason upended by Ndidi – and Sigurdsson was given another free-kick chance. It was chipped towards the back post but it was a bread-and-butter stuff for Uzoho.

Gislason, with his back to goal, turned to craft some space but his curling shot was pretty wild. Moses was then on the run up the other end but after cutting inside, drilled straight into blue shirts. There was still plenty of life in this game.

Moments after hitting the bar, Musa found the back of the net. Balogun played a super ball down the left flank and Musa ghosted inside Arnason, rounded the keeper and fired into an empty goal.

There was a flashpoint in the game. Ebuehi caught Finnbodvarsson in the back of the leg. VAR was used to determine whether it was a penalty kick.

Sigurdsson had the ball confidently under his arm as that decision was reviewed and he stepped up.

It was a poor one from Sigurdsson and he curled off-target. Looked like a lifeline for Iceland but that was a shocker.

Nigeria held on to the two-goal lead to accumulate three points from two games in the group.


TheCable