VOLGOGRAD: Ahmed Musa scored twice as Nigeria recovered from their opening defeat at the World Cup finals to keep their hopes of progress alive by defeating Group D rivals Iceland 2-0.
The Leicester forward opened the scoring early in the second half and fired home another brilliant goal in the 75th minute to put Nigeria in control.
Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson missed an 83rd-minute penalty as Nigeria’s victory ensured they, Iceland and Argentina can all still qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup with one game to play.
Iceland, who held Argentina 1-1 in their opening match, made the better start.
Sigurdsson’s early free-kick was well saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who then gathered another effort from the Everton midfielder.
Nigeria, who lost their opening game 2-0 against Croatia, had a much better shape to their side and slowly played themselves into the match.
Leicester pair Kelechi Iheanacho and fellow forward Musa, plus defender Kenneth Omeruo all started and the Super Eagles enjoyed plenty of possession.
Yet Nigeria did not attempt a single shot in the opening 45 minutes, the first side to do so in the first half of a World Cup match since South Korea against Algeria in 2014
Iceland wasted one of their few chances when Birkir Bjarnason just failed to latch on to Birkir Saevarsson’s diagonal cross in the 37th minute.
Iceland finished the first half on top, with Alfred Finnbogason firing wide after a cross from Sigurdsson.
Super Eagles’ coach Gernot Rohr sent on Tyronne Ebuehi for fellow defender Brian Idowu during the interval and his side made a flying start to the second half.
Victor Moses collected a headed clearance and burst down the right and his cross was brilliantly controlled in the penalty area by Musa, who lashed home his side’s first goal of the tournament to give Nigeria a 49th-minute lead.
Wilfred Ndidi’s effort was then saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson before Iceland regained their composure.
Nigeria continued to threaten, however, and Musa first the bar then, within a minite, he raced into the penalty area and drew Halldorsson before firing home.
Iceland were handed a lifeline in the 80th minute following Ebuehi’s challenge on Finnbogason in the area.
New Zeland referee Matthew Conger consulted with VAR before awarding a penalty but Sigurdsson thrashed his spot kick over the crossbar.
Musa is now his country’s all-time top scorer in World Cup games with four goals. Only Asamoah Gyan (six goals for Ghana) and Roger Milla (five for Cameroon) have scored more for an African nation.