Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring their second goal. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Ahmed Musa scored both goals as Nigeria swept aside World Cup debutants Iceland to leave Group D intriguingly poised with one round of games to go.
The Super Eagles would have gone out with defeat but came good in Volgograd.
Here are five thoughts from the game.
The formation used in defeating Argentina 4-2 in a friendly match was reinstated by Gernot Rohr. In a friendly match against England at Wembley, Nigeria looked more threatening when they returned after halftime in a 3-5-2 formation. Despite an indifferent first half, Nigeria came back in the second half all guns blazing. Nigeria played with an improved intensity. The ball was moved quicker and during a counter attack, Nigeria utilized the pace of Victor Moses on the flanks which led to the first goal.
ICELAND HAVE A GOOD SET-UP
Iceland’s set-up was very impressive. In the first half, they lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, stayed compact and prevented Nigeria from penetrating through the middle. Iceland also blocked passing lanes by manning the channels efficiently when Nigeria wanted to use the width of the pitch. Nigeria found it difficult in the first half but improved tremendously in the second half and took the lead. In an attempt to equalize, they shifted to a 2-3-5 formation which proved futile. That gave Nigeria access into Iceland’s defence but overall, Iceland has proved that they are no pushovers.
JOHN OBI MIKEL’S BEST POSITION SETTLED
After the game against Croatia, Jose Mourinho opined that Rohr had sacrificed a very good number ‘6’ for a bad number ‘10’. Definitely, Mikel’s qualities do not make him suited to the number 10 role and Rohr has been vindicated by his decision to play John Obi Mikel in his normal holding midfield role. Mikel had an excellent game as he dictated the tempo of the game with his cool and controlled approach with the ball. Mikel provided the foundation for Etebo and N’didi to move freely to join the attack.
GOOD SPACING, ONE TOUCH FOOTBALL AND EXCELLENT INTER-POSITIONAL PLAY FROM NIGERIA
The good one-touch football, wonderful movement on and off the ball and excellent spacing from Nigeria definitely implies that they are better suited to the 3-5-2 formation. Mikel Obi, Wilfred N’didi and Etebo Oghehekaro linked up very well in the middle of the park and were immense, especially in the second half. The formation also brought the best out of Victor Moses who was indispensable at the right wing back position and drove forward several times. The formation allowed Nigeria to utilize the full width of the pitch whiles consolidating the midfield.
AHMED MUSA TAKES HIS CHANCE
The decision to start with Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho ahead of Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo was spot on. There was more pace in Nigeria’s attack and Ahmed Musa was more direct with his approach and gave a good account of himself as he scored twice.
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