Nigeria are now on the brink of advancing out of Group F and into the knockout phase after a solid – nearly dominating – performance over Bosnia-Herzegovina in a 1-0 win Saturday night in Cuiaba.
Emmanuel Emenike assisted Peter Odemwingie in the 29th minute for the lone goal of the match. Bosnia-Herzegovina had their chances too, but could not find a way past Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
The win was the first in the World Cup play for Nigeria since topping Bulgaria 1-0 in the group stage at France 1998.
OFFICIALS GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY: Brilliance by Bosnia-Herzegovina leads to the game’s first goal. Or so many would have thought. A nice through ball got behind the Nigeria defense and Edin Dzeko ran onto it and buried it into the back of the net, only to have it taken back by the sideline official, who ruled that Dzeko was offside. Replays showed the call was inaccurate.
Less than 10 minutes later in the 29th minute, Emenike appeared to take down a Bosnian defender while driving into the box, and it went uncalled. He then followed it up by slotting a pass to Odemwingie for the opening goal.
BACK TO FINISHING SCHOOL: Bosnia-Herzegovina were shut out, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. That was particularly evident with Dzeko, who tallied 8 shots, but could not finish anything off, save for the controversially disallowed goal. Dzeko could have tied it up twice in stoppage time, but Enyeama gobbled up a header, and then kicked away a try from point-blank range that bounced off the post to preserve the win.
STELLAR IN THE NETS: It wasn’t just Enyeama who was solid in the nets. Bosnia-Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was on his game, too, keeping his nation in it with eight saves. The two combined for 15 saves in total, with Enyeama recording seven in the clean sheet.
WORLD CUP RAMIFICATIONS: With the win, Nigeria need a win or draw vs. Argentina in their group finale, or a Bosnia-Herzegovina win or draw vs. Iran on the same day to advance to the knockout phase. However, if Nigeria lose and Iran win, both will have four points and goal differential will decide which nation advances. Bosnia-Herzegovina seemed primed for a good run in this World Cup, but with consecutive losses to open play they have officially been eliminated.
Man of the Match: Emmanuel Emenike, forward, Nigeria. The Nigerian striker was energetic and dynamic throughout the contest. He assisted on the lone goal of the match and had many touches in the box that nearly extended the lead. Enyeama was a close second with his clean sheet.