ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS* in AL-AIN: Nigeria proved too hot to handle for Iran, securing their place in the quarter finals of the FIFA U-17 world cup, UAE 2013 with a 4-1 victory.
Kelechi Iheanacho delivered an early sign of things to come with a shot that flashed over the bar in the first minute.
Iran slowly gained confidence by putting pressure on Nigeria’s passing game but Samuel Okon regained control of the game for to Nigeria in the 23rd minute. Musa Yahaya sent a defence splitting pass to Okon who side-footed the ball beyond Iran goalkeeper Mahdi Amini.
Two minutes later Iheanacho scored his fifth goal of the tournament after a move he instigated himself. Picking up a loose ball, he sent a long pass forward to Taiwo Awoniyi who held up play, took on two defenders and laid the ball back to the onrushing Iheanacho who beat Amini at his near post.
Nigeria’s captain Musa Mohammed soon made it two goals in two games with Nigeria’s third, hitting the ball with the outside of his foot to beat the Amini.
The second half was more equal with both sides threatening to score for the first half hour but Musa Yahaya, extinguished what hopes Iran had with a solo effort in the 74th minute. He won the ball in the midfield, raced towards Iran goal, beat a defender and unleashed a low shot which took a slight deflection to beat Amini.
Iran scored a consolation goal in the 84th minute when substitute Ali Gholizadeh let fly from the edge of the box.
At the final whistle the Nigerian team undertook a victory lap to thank the Al-Ain fans for their support; Iran were left to prepare for their short journey home.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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