Nigeria won their way into the knockout stage of the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a storming 5-2 victory over Croatia.
A heavy pitch didn’t thwart the Africans who held a 2-1 half-time lead and, after extending their advantage just past the hour mark, substitute Uche Nwofor bagged a double to end Croatia’s hopes of a top-two finish.
Both teams enjoyed early openings, notably with a back-heel from Mario Ticinovic finding Andrej Kramaric, whose shot from inside the penalty area hit the side netting.
However, it was Nigeria that opened the scoring, with a neat pass from Abdul Ajagun finding Olarenwaju Kayode, who fired home with a low shot past the exposed goalkeeper.
There were further openings for Nigeria from Edafe Egbedi and Ahmed Musa, before they extended the advantage with a wonder goal from Terna Suswan who fired a powerful drive from 30 yards.
Croatia, however, pulled a much needed goal back three before the interval with Zvonko Pamic’s free-kick headed home by Ivan Lendric.
Nigeria continued to show good form going forward and were rewarded just past the hour with a third goal. This time Musa collected the ball on the right before firing a low powerful shot which went between the legs of a Croatian defender and into the far corner.
Croatia to their credit again pulled a goal back from a set-piece. Pamic once again was the provider but this time Andrej Kramaric finished with the header.
However, the reply was almost immediate with two goals from Nwofor in the space of four minutes putting the Nigerians well and truly in control. Musa set up Nwofor who scored easily in the top corner. Suswan then played provider setting up Nwofor on the right who headed past Matej Delac.