A Guillermo De Peno own goal and Samson Lawal’s winner helped the Flying Eagles come from behind to secure a hard-fought 2-1 win over debutants Dominican Republic in their opening Group D game at U-20 World Cup at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, The PUNCH reports.
Nigeria, two-time finalists at the U-20 World Cup, are determined to make history and clinch their maiden title, but Ladan Bosso’s side struggled to beat the Caribbeans in their first game of the tournament.
Despite the Flying Eagles’ dominance, it was the U-20 World Cup debutants that drew the first blood in Argentina when Edison Azcona converted from the spot in the 23rd minute to hand the CONCACAF representatives their first ever goal at the tournament.
The 19-year-old slotted into the left corner, after sending goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso to the opposite direction.
Undeterred by the early setback, Bosso’s boys responded well and were back on level terms eight minutes later.
A long throw by Solomon Abalaka forced under pressure De Peno to head into his own net.
The Flying Eagles continued to create chances but couldn’t convert as the first half ended 1-1.
In the second half, they continued to dominate possession but lacked the quality to threaten their opponents.
The Nigerians, however, took the lead in the 71st minute, after Lawal pounced on a poor Israel Boatwright back-pass to slot beyond Xavier Valdez, in goal for the Caribbeans.
The result means Nigeria have now scored in five opening-day fixtures in a row at the U-20 World Cup since a 1-0 defeat to Venezuela at Egypt 2009.
The Dominican Republic could not stage their own comeback, allowing Nigeria to coast to victory and secure three crucial points that placed them atop Group D.
Nigeria and the Dominican Republic will return to action on Wednesday against Italy and Brazil respectively.