Nigeria 2-2 Scotland: Nwofor Saves Eagles Day at Craven Cottage

Nigeria forced Scotland to a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.

Michael Uchebo leveled an early Charlie Mulgrew strike, but Azubuike Eguekwe’s own-goal allowed Scotland to regain an edge early into the second-half.

Second-half substitute Uche Nwofor earned a point for Nigeria and underlined his credentials as one of the team’s prospects for Brazil.

Coach Stephen Keshi rested seven players from his starting line up, opting to try out several members of his preliminary squad ahead of Monday’s deadline for the naming of his final 23-man squad.

Coach Gordon Stratchan preferred Alan McGregor to Cardiff City’s goalkeeper David Marshall while Dundee United left-back Andrew Robertson got his first Scotland Start.

Super Eagles Celebrates After Uchebo's Strike.
Super Eagles Celebrates After Uchebo’s Strike.

World Cup-bound Super Eagles got off to a good start with Warri Wolves winger Ejike Uzoenyi immediately showcasing his talent in front of the crowd at the Fulham FC ground.

Scotland’s Nigerian-born left winger Ikechi Anya almost registered his second goal for the ‘Tartan Army’ in the sixth minute, when he received a long James Morrison cross, only for his attempt to brush off the far post following a slight deflection by Kunle Odunlami.

Uchebo, making just his second appearance for Nigeria, fluffed a rare goalscoring attempt, after Scott Brown gifted him a pass from the outside of the box.

Mulgrew opened scoring for Scotland in the 11th minute- the Celtic midfielder scooped a pass by James Morrison with his back heel, past goalkeeper Austin Ejide.

The early goal encouraged Stratchan’s men to press forward, while Nigeria looked shaky at the back.

Uzoenyi continued to trouble Scotland’s defence. Shola Ameobi’s stretching volley after a cross from the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) MVP flew straight into McGregor’s arm six minutes after the half-hour mark.

Ejide In Action Against Scotland at Craven Cottage.
Ejide In Action Against Scotland at Craven Cottage.

Uchebo drew the African champions level three minutes to the half-time break; the big Cercle Brugge striker advanced forward on a retreating Scotland defence before releasing a shot which took a big deflection off Grant Henley to beat McGregor into the top right corner.

Ameobi almost doubled the lead immediately, but the outgoing Newcastle man blazed his shot off target.

Referee Lee Probert brought the opening half to a halt, Keshi pondered injecting some key players into his squad at the break.

Joseph Yobo was quick to deny Anya another scoring opportunity five minutes after restart, the skipper responded quickest to head the Watford man’s shot from the left.

Scotland restored their lead in the eighth minute of the restart, when Azubuike Egwuekwe- trying to prevent West Brom’s Morrison from getting a touch in front of goal- deflected the ball into the net for an own-goal.

Keshi responded by replacing Joel Obi with Nosa Igiebor as Uchebo made way for the returning Odemwingie, both substitute immediately combined with a clever one-two to allow the Real Betis playmaker fire in a low shot which McGregor smothered.

The Eagles struggled to restore parity but the Europeans kept working tirelessly to reduce the space for Nigeria to press in, while threatening on the counter.

Nigerian Players Celebrates Uche Nwofor's 91st Minute Leveler.PA.
Nigerian Players Celebrates Uche Nwofor’s 91st Minute Leveler. PA.

Substitute Nwofor twice came close to providing the leveler in the closing minutes of the game, but his second attempt was headed wide off goal.

The striker was third time lucky after some poor defending from Scotland, as Hanley delayed to make a clearance in his goal area only to hit the ball off Nnamdi Oduamadi’s foot and it fell to Nwofor’s feet; the SC Heerenveen striker wasted no time to sneak a low shot past McGregor in injury time.

The draw means Scotland remains unbeaten in six consecutive matches.

Nigeria departs for their World Cup training camp in Houston, Texas on Thursday.

They will play further friendly internationals against Greece and the United States before getting down to business in Brazil.

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