Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nigeria 1 - Bosnia and Herzegovina 0

Photo by Phil Walter
Cuiaba was the site of the tussle between Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nigeria were presumably happen not to have to break down a bunker defense in this match, but the flip side was having to deal with the stacked Bosnian midfield. Ahmed Musa was nearly through with a chance on goal, so Haris Medunjanin had to grab his shoulder to commit the foul. On the resulting free kick, Peter Odemwingie hit a great shot that just clipped the wall and went mere centimeters wide of frame. Nigeria continued to pepper Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Ogenyi Onazi smacked a low drive from distance to force a diving stop from Begovic. The Dragons looked to have scored the opener when Edin Dzeko scored from a short pass by Zvjezdan Misimovic, but the officials incorrectly determined that Nigerian right back Efe Ambrose had stepped up in time to cause an offsides infraction. However, Bosnia were now completely settled into the match. Ivet Hajrovic feinted a couple time to get himself open from nineteen yards away, but he was only able to roll a weak attempt on frame. Dzeko was through on goal again, this time from an excellent one-time through ball from Medunjanin, but Dzeko's effort was blocked by the stone wall that is Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. By this point in the match, the game was wide open. Miralem Pjanic sent another shot in from distance, but again Enyeama was able to save Nigeria. Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike did a swim move to avoid the challenge of Bosnian centerback Emir Spahic, who had been forced to cover his left back. Emenike drove into the box and then pushed a pass upfield for Peter Odemwingie, whose one-timed finish put the Super Eagles ahead 1-0.

The game remained open in the second period, but the quality of attack suffered a bit. Michael Babatunde had a decent chance for Nigeria, but Begovic made the simple parry to the side. Babatunde had an even better chance soon thereafter, but Begovic was able to desperately get his body before the ball. In the ensuing scramble, Emenike had a chance, but a hard-charging Begovic made a kick save to deny the Super Eagles. Babatunde suffered a leg injury that seemed to suck the rhythm out of the game with around twenty minutes left in the affair as his treatment and substitution dragged on. With ten minutes to go, both teams seemed tired in defense and were willing to risk yellow cards for obstruction. Emenike set up Onazi for a low drive from distance that Begovic did well to keep out of his net. A couple minutes later, Emenike sent a low bouncer just wide of the near post. Begovic recorded the highest save total of any goalkeeper in an individual game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in this game with a astounding nine. With his teammates tiring, Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic was single-handedly breaking up Nigerian counterattacks with his sprints to track back and cover his defenders. In stoppage time, Pjanic sent in a delicate cross off a high bounce that fell right onto Dzeko's head six yards from goal, but Dzeko's header bounced right in front of Enyeama for a simple catch. In the final minute, Dzeko received a ball in the box and turned to face the goal. Surely, Bosnia were going to pull out a miraculous draw, but Enyeama somehow kicked the ball to save it off his post. Nigeria win 1-0 to move into second place in the group and eliminate Bosnia from contention.

Argentina IN 6 pts +2
Nigeria 4 pts +1
Iran 1 pts -1
Bosnia OUT

Peter Odemwingie 29

Match Reports:


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