The Super Eagles increased their unbeaten runs to sixteen games after a two- all draw with the El Tricolores of Mexico at the Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, USA, on Saturday.
A Chicharito brace was sufficient to wave pressure off Jose Manuel De La Torre’s side as Brown Ideye converted from the spot kick before an own- goal from a John Ogu strike gave Nigeria the lead.
The match lived up to its billing, coupled with some breathless moments both teams will proceed to their next World Cup qualifying games knowing they can only build on Saturday’s performance.
Javier Hernandes put Mexico on the lead in the 21st minute, after El Tricolores had came close to getting the opener on some few occasions earlier in the match. Pablo Barrera fed Chicharito through on goal and the striker wasted no chance to send the ball past Austin Ejide, profiting from a shoddy defending from Godfrey Obaobona and Kenneth Omeruo.
After the first goal, the mentality of the game changed with Mexico on the ascendancy.
Kudos must be given to the midfield duo of Ogenyi Onazi and Sunday Mba who made sure Eagles were in contention before the interval.
Onazi regained possession in the midfield. He intelligently maneuvered the forwards, in a swift interchange; forced a smart save from Corona in goal for the Mexicans. Unfortunately for the Latinos, Barrera was in goal to save with his hand from the resulting rebound, a goal- bound effort.
It translated to a penalty and a straight red card for the defender according to the referee’s rule book. Brown Ideye confidently guided the ball past Corona as Eagles were back in the mix with one man up.
In the 40th minute, John Ogu’s brave strike flew in past the stranded Corona after a deflection off veteran, Gerrardo Torrado, to gift Nigeria the desired lead.
Eagles ended the first 45 minute on a high, and more so, began the second- half on a similar note. The partisan crowd in the Reliant Stadium added numbers to the 10- man Mexican side and they eventually got the equaliser.
Former Fulham player Carlos Salcido sent in a delectable cross to Chicharito, whose sublime finish went past Vincent Enyeama- a half- time substitute.
Mexico almost got a decisive third goal on two notable occasions, but for Enyeama’s reflex and athleticism, the game ended 2-2.
Nigeria battled hard in the midfield and almost got a late winner when an Oduamadi’s shot hit the crossbar in the final three minutes of the match.
Having gone one man down, the 2-2 draw was more encouraging for Coach De La Torre’s side, which had been under immense pressure from the Mexicans.
Nigeria will have to get a goal and avoid defeat in Nairobi on June 5 if they must keep World Cup qualification hopes alive.