Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets booked their place in the last four of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE after a 2-0 victory over Uruguay in Sharjah on Saturday.
Taiwo Awoniyi, who started in place of the injured Isaac Success, grabbed both of the Eaglets’ goals and sent the three-time champions into their seventh semi-finals were they next play Sweden- the Group F runners-up.
Nigeria opened scoring from a fine link-up play when Kelechi Iheanacho laid on a wonderful through ball from deep in midfield only for Awoniyi to fire home a heavy shot to the back post.
The South Americans who likewise started the encounter with zeal and determination sprang back to life, wanting to draw level. Kevin Mendez and Leandro Otormin both tested Nigeria goalkeeper Dele Alampsu from a distance.
But Nigeria yet, looked much better on the attack, keeping the ball easily and opening up spaces in their opponents’ defence.
Captain Musa Muhammed, who reportedly is been touted by top English clubs, laid a cross from the right four minutes after the half-hour mark, which was missed by Awoniyi.
Nigeria resumed play in the second half, displaying their trade mark rampant attack as Awoniyi and Musa Yahaya both went close to scoring. Uruguay sat deep in their half, absorbing the pressure and hanging on for any possible break up front.
Iheanacho then turned and fired from the edge of the box only for his shot to come flying off the back of a brave Uruguayan defender.
Nigeria’s persistence eventually yielded to a second goal in the 79 minute. In a similar manner as was the first. Iheanacho, who has five goals to his credit, picked up a perfect pass at the edge of the area from Chidiebere Nwakali and drove the ball towards goal. The Uruguayan defence collapsed on the Nigerian playmaker who had the presence of mind to pull the ball across the face of goal, where Awoniyi stabbed home inside the far post to claim his third goal of the tournament.
The victory sets up a replay of Group F Matchday 2 3-3 draw between Nigeria and Sweden.