Flying Eagles Loses 3-2 to Portugal in their Opening Group B Encounter of the U-20 World Cup.

Abdul Ajagun.
Abdul Ajagun.

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles lost to Portugal in their opening match of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup at the Kadir Has Stadium in Kayseri, Turkey.

Portugal’s 3-2 triumph over the John Sam Obuh-led U-20 team saw them leap to the top of Group B, level on point with Korea Republic after the latter’s victory over debutantes Cuba.

A brace from skipper Abduljaleel Ajagun, after being 2-0 down at half-time, was not sufficient for the African side as a double from Bruma and Aldje’s strike earned the Portuguese the deserved victory.

After a slow start, Portugal began to make the best of the running. Though they wasted several opportunities, the pressure finally told when Bruma made the best out of a slick pass by captain Joao Mario, slotting confidently past the advancing Okani.

Aladje made it 2-0 minutes later. Bruma was found in all sort of space on the left, and when Okani palm his shot, Aladje was happy to tap into the open net.

While Nigeria had their chances to draw a goal back, none were better than Ajagun’s two efforts from close range, forcing goalkeeper Sa into a stunning double save right on half-time.

After the break Nigeria looked keen to reduce the deficit, and did just that on the hour mark. A sublime through-ball from Okanu found Ajagun, who this time beat Sa with a deft dink over the onrushing keeper.

Ajagun then drew Nigeria level with an even better effort. A deep corner found him alone in the Portugal area, where he controlled the ball and sublimely curled into the far corner of Sa’s goal.

Nigeria’s joy was short lived as Bruma got his second goal of the encounter less than two minutes after Ajagun drew level. He slotted inside the near post from the edge of the area, a Ricardo Esgaio’s through ball.

Ajagun had the chance to bag his hat-trick ten minutes from time, but Sa was on hand to continue the pair’s sparring with another fine save as the Europeans hung to victory.