Osaze Odemwingie’s first-half strike against Bosnia-Hercegovina secured a first win for Nigeria in 9 World Cup matches on Saturday.
The win knocked Bosnia out in the group stage of the World Cup and Coach Stephen Keshi’s men now need a draw in their final Group F match against Argentina to seal a second round berth for the first time since France 98.
Striker Edin Dzeko’s goal earlier in the first-half was disallowed by referee Peter O’Leary for an offside, but replay showed the Manchester City marksman was behind the Nigerian defender.
Odemwingie turned into the net from close range, Emmanuel Emenike’s low cross to record his first goal for the Super Eagles in four years.
Dzeko almost forced the African champions to a draw in the closing minutes, but goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama deflected his low shot from close range onto the post.
Keshi made three changes from the side which started in the goalless draw against Iran less than a week ago. Ramon Azeez, Victor Moses and the injured Godfrey Obaobona were replaced by Michael Babatunde, Odemwingie and skipper Joseph Yobo.
With both teams wanting to win the crucial game to keep qualification hopes alive, there was never going to be a slow start as Stoke forward Odemwingie curled a free-kick inches wide with club team-mate Asmir Begovic struggling to get to the ball.
The African champions overrun their opponents in the midfield, with Ahmed Musa invading the Bosnian goal area regularly.
The Eagles defence managed to close down Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic after 20 minutes, but the former soon set the latter through on goal and he made no mistake to clinically put the ball into the net, only for the referee to rule him offside- replay showed he was onside.
The pair later combined in similar order, but this time Dzeko’s shot from 16 yards is parried by Enyeama.
Nigeria, who had displayed lack of composure up front initially, gathered their acts together on 29 minute, when Emenike energetically beat off Emir Spahic and his low cross was turned home by Odemwingie through Begovic’s legs.
Bosnia were lucky to have gone into the break trailing by just a goal, having not being able to cope with their opponents’ pace.
An otherwise slow start to the second-half was revamped by a Micahael Babatunde 61st minute shot from a distance, which was saved by Begovic, who also blocked Emenike’s close-range strike with his feet moments later.
Onazi blasted a thunderbolt from 25 yards early into the final ten minutes, which was parried away by Begovic.
Dzeko’s final attempt to keep the debutantes in the World Cup was brilliantly deflected onto the post by Enyeama, and it was the last real peace of action before the referee ended proceedings.