After Nigeria’s drab opening game against Iran, the bet was on the Super Eagles to raise their game against Bosnia-Herzegovina and secure a crucial win. A win that would break the African Champions’ record nine game winless streak in the World Cup finals.
Nigeria’s Captain Joseph Yobo came on for the injured Oboabona while Peter Odemwingie and Michael Babatunde started in the place of Ramon Azeez and Victor Moses respectively.
The game started frantically with both teams seeking to stamp their authority on the game. Mikel’s long pass to Emenike earned Nigeria the first corner on the 3rd minute, but the corner was wasted. Dzeko was looking menacing with his runs from deep but the edgy Nigerian defence cleared well. The pacy Ahmed Musa was fouled by Medunjanin as he pounced on a loose ball and the free kick by Odemwingie in the 7th minute went close.
Both teams attacked with intent but the end product was lacking. Mikel’s shot flashed wide as Nigeria looked to take the lead. Onazi’s strike from distance tested Begovic; a bright start from the Nigerian side. Babatunde and Onazi were proving strong in midfield while Pjanic was orchestrating things for Bosnia.
The pace of the game slowed down and Dzeko stole in to score but the goal was adjudged offside. Ambrose’s fine cross on the 21st minute was missed by Musa, who was looking lively. The ever reliable Enyeama saved from Dzeko and Pjanic to keep Nigeria level.
On the 29th minute, Odemwingie released Emenike who bullied his way into the box and passed back to Odemwingie to score Nigeria’s first goal of the competition. The irate Bosnians felt aggrieved but the goal stood.
Emenike again drove into the box and won a corner for the Super Eagles but Babatunde’s kick was dealt with. Medunjanin’s long shot on the 39th minute midfield went wide. The impressive Omeruo tagged on to Dzeko, nullifying his physical threat. A smart move by Pjanic on the right to beat Odemwingie fell to Dzeko, whose shot went over. First half ended 1:0 in favour of Nigeria.
The second half started with Bosnia making a spirited effort to get back into the game but Nigeria was doing well to contain them. The balance of play was with the Bosnians but the impressive Babatunde’s shot on goal was saved by Begovic. Ibisevic came on for Hajrovic as the Bosnians sought an equaliser. Salihovic came on for Lulic shortly after.
Emenike again was causing trouble on the right as Nigeria began to get into the game. Babatunde’s shot was pushed away by Begovic who did well to save from Emenike on the rebound. Pjanic found Dzeko in the box but Omeruo was quick to clear. Bosnia made their final change, bringing on Susic for Medunjanin.
Nigeria looked unto Shola Ameobi to replace Ahmed Musa and he instantly found Emenike whose shot was pushed out by Begovic for a corner. Bosnia battled on but Nigeria was defending well and looking to punish them on the counter. Mujdza fouled the enterprising Babatunde but Nigeria couldn’t take advantage.
Ibisevic headed wide from a corner and Babatunde was replaced by Ejike Uzoenyi. Pjanic’s shot was saved well by Enyeama on the 77th minute. Ameobi was fouled just outside the box and Uzoenyi’s kick went wide. Ameobi was doing well holding up play and Oshaniwa’s run was halted. Emenike held up play well and set up Onazi, whose fiery shot was saved. Mikel was cautioned for a professional foul on Pjanic.
Emenike’s shot on the 83rd minuted flashed wide as Nigeria was finding space to counter. Mikel robbed Susic and released Onazi who failed to take advantage. Nigeria sought to close out the game, dropping deep to defend. Emenike was fouled again outside the box but the free kick was again ineffective.
Nigeria stood tall to defend as Bosnia pushed for an equaliser. Dzeko’s header from Pjanic was saved on the line by Enyeama. In the last minute, Dzeko did well to turn in the box and shoot but the brilliant Enyeama went down and pushed the ball to the upright.shot on the last minute was pushed unto the upright.
Nigeria win 1:0 in a bruising display, getting their first win in a World Cup final since 1998 and keeping their second clean sheet in the competition.