Victor Obinna, whose profligate finishing was criticised after a goalless opening draw with the Netherlands, made amends on Sunday, scoring one and setting up another as Nigeria beat Japan 2-1 in Tianjin. The result sees the Africans move, temporarily at least, to the summit on Group B.
The Japanese - who lost their first game after a valiant effort against the US - came out looking to pressure Nigerians early. The dazzling wing play of Gamba Osaka's Michihiro Yasuda was the focal point of the opening Japanese raids.
As the half progressed, however, the Nigerians - with their earnest hustle, massive size advantage and tremendous individual technique - began to dictate the pattern. Chibuzor Okonkwo went roaring into the Japanese box on the quarter hour and looked to be bundled over. All he got for his efforts on this occasion, however, was a yellow card for simulation.
Two fine chances toward the end of the opening period nearly saw both sides break the deadlock. Nigeria's Russia-based Peter Odemwingie was guilty of the miss of the finals thus far, hitting over from inside six yards after fine approach work by Solomon Okoronkwo.
Two minutes later it was Japan's turn as Yasuda crossed brilliantly for Hiroyuki Taniguchi, but Ambruse Vanzekin made an instinctive save as the half ended scoreless.
The Asians showed the greater purpose at the start of the second period, again with Yasuda and his right-sided counterpart Atsuto Uchida leading the way up the flanks in a counter-attacking posture.
It was the Nigerians who grabbed the all-important opening goal, though - and what a peach it was. Promise Isaac spun brilliantly inside the box, then laid the ball off for the advancing Okoronkwo, who in turn flicked the ball through to Victor Obinna racing in. The Brescia man, who missed a raft of chances in the Nigeria's opener with the Dutch, this time made no mistake, hitting low and hard into the corner of the net (1-0).
Nigeria coach Samson Siasia, who three years ago brought Nigeria to the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, looked like a genius as the game drew to a close. Second-half substitute Victor Anichebe of Everton, on for the struggling Odemwingie, hammered home from close range after an inch-perfect cross from Obinna (2-0).
The Japanese pulled one back in the 79th minute through substitute Yohei Toyoda, who clinically poked home from close range for a bit of consolation in a sudden downpour (2-1).
The Nigerians, on four points from two Group B games travel to Beijing to meet USA in their last game of the section. The Japanese, with zero but not yet out, take on the Dutch in Shenyang.