Nigeria stumbled against a terrible Greek team. It was all good as the Super Eagles were off to a flying start but a red card and a string of injuries hurt the African team chances. First World Cup victory for an undeserving European squad.
Both Nigeria and Greece were very poor in their first games and only had three shots on target between them. It was make or break for the Super Eagles as they needed to win to keep on hoping for a second round qualification. Unfortunately for them, in this must-win encounter against Greece, Nigeria shot themselves in the foot.
With a very packed midfield, Nigeria took the better start. And scored on pretty much their first shot as a foul turned into a great goal. 16th minute: Kalu Uche steps up to curl the resulting free-kick into the box… but it misses everybody and sails straight in. Greece keeper Alexandros Tzorvas didn’t move an inch. With the Greek incapable of rising their game and leaving their extremely defensive tactic, Lars Lagerbäck and his men were cruising to an easy win.
That was until Sani Kaita unnecessarly lost his temper. The Monaco man disputesda ball with Vassilis Torosidis after it had bounced out of play. After a little rumble, he kicked out at his opponent. A moment of madness and referee Oscar Ruiz had no choice but to send him off. Thus creating hope for Greece, who instantly got two chances. That’s double what they had against Korea. But Enyema (39’) and Haruna (41’) were there to save the day.
Greece coach Otto Rehhagel decided to go for it – even he had to really. He brought on another striker, Celtic’s Giorgos Samaras, for midfielder Socratis Papastathopoulos. And what was hanging at Nigeria’s nose happened : Greece leveled up for their firsst World Cup goal ever. Salpingidis’ powerful effort from just outside the box took a big deflection off Haruna and flew into the net leaving Enyeama completely wrong footed.
In superb form against Argentina, Enyema turned on the style, denying the Greek strikers. Over 20 shots on goal for the 2004 European champions as Nigeria fell back. It got worse for the Super Eagles as Marseille’s Taye Taiwo left the pitch (55’). Visibly hurt, the left back had already been subbed in the previous game.
In the last half hour, the game goes mad : first, Vincent Enyeama denies Fanis Gekas after a poor headed clearance by Joseph Yobo gifts Gekas the ball in front of goal. Nigeria break quickly – very quickly – and suddenly Yakubu is clean through too but Alexandros Tzorvas gets something on his shot and, with the goal gaping, Chinedu Obasi somehow fires the rebound wide.
71th minute : Shot from outside the box uncharacteristically spilled by Enyeama and Torosidis reacts first to poke the ball in from a few yards. The Greeks are one up and it’s looking gloom for Nigeria as they don’t seem to be unable to come back. It’s not looking bright for Lars Lagerback and his Eagles. But they have only themselves to blame.