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Nigeria defeat Dominican Republic in FIFA U-20 opener

flying eagles of Nigeria draw S'Africa, Ivory Coast in 2019 U23 AFCON flying eagles of Nigeria draw S'Africa, Ivory Coast in 2019 U23 AFCON
Nigeria draw S'Africa, Ivory Coast in 2019 U23 AFCON

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria have defeated their Dominican Republic counterparts 2-1 in the opening game of Group D at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The Nigerians wrestled victory from the jaws of defeat after coming from a goal down to grab vital three points in a thrilling encounter on Sunday at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina.

The Ladan Bosso-led boys dominated the game against the Dominican Republic, a country making its debut at the FIFA World Cup.

Jude Sunday and Ibrahim Lawal proved to be a handful for the Republican defence with pace and trickery from both flanks of the Nigerian attack.

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Xavier Valdez, in goal for the Republicans, was called into action twice in the early stage of the match.

However, the Caribbeans drew the first blood in a fashion that was totally against the run of play.

Benjamin Fredrick was too aggressive while attempting to halt an attack down the right flank and he stumped on the boot of Gomez de la Cruz inside the Nigerian goal area.

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The striker went to the ground, and the referee pointed to the spot after a brief review with the video assistant referee (VAR).

Edison Azcona sent Chijioke Aniagboso the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

The Eagles responded just seven minutes later with a fortunate own goal to level the scoreline.

Daniel Bameyi aimed a long throw in the Republican goal area, and an imminent danger spurred Valdez off his line. But Guillermo Rosario got to the ball first and his header was erroneously goalbound.

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Nigeria tightened the screw of pressure thereon. Sunday twice came close to giving the Eagles the lead, but Valdez stopped one effort at full stretch, and the other sailed millimetres away from the upright.

The goal eventually came for the Nigerians in the 70th minute. A defensive mishap serves Samson Lawal with a chance, and he cooly slotted the ball beyond on-rushing Valdez and into the net.

Nigeria sit top of the group ahead of their next game against Italy on Wednesday before playing Brazil in their final group match next Saturday.

The Flying Eagles qualified for the competition after finishing third in Egypt’s U20 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) earlier this year.

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