England have Nigeria’s number
Written By: Robert Halter
With just twelve days left until the World Cup finals gets underway in Russia, a warm up game took place between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium, the beginning of June. In the fifth minute there is a clash of heads between two Nigerian players, Joel Obi and Leon Balogun, and the referee, Marco Guida, takes a few extra seconds before stopping play. In the meantime, England prepare for a free kick while Nigeria are temporarily down to ten men with Balogun requiring further treatment, and from a dead ball situation, Kieran Trippier delivers a scintillating right footed strike which Nigeria’s shot stopper, Francis Uzoho, keeps out by leaping to his left and making the save. However in just the seventh minute, England forge ahead, when Trippier delivers a corner and with a well timed header by Gary Cahill, the ball soars from the centre of the box into the top right corner. In the thirteenth minute, England prize another opportunity, when Ashley Young plays the corner short to Jesse Lingard, who whips the ball into the area, which rises over the head of Eric Dier, before finding John Stones in the six yard box, but Uzoho makes the stop before latching onto the loose ball. Within a minute, the Three Lions press again, when Lingard sets Sterling free down the left flank, who fires a shot across goal, as his cross rolls wide. In the twenty eighth minute, another chance goes the way of England, when Dele Alli puts through Trippier down the right, who whips in a cross to Lingard at the near post, but as the ball goes past him, he loses control and clatters into the advertising boards. In the thirty fourth minute, Uzoho makes a crucial save to prevent England adding to their slender advantage, when Young threads the ball through to Sterling, who gets in behind the Nigeria defence, and then as he makes the cross, Uzoho reads it well to make the stop. In the thirty sixth minute, Nigeria pressed forward, when Alex Iwobi runs down the left side, before the ball is played back from Brian Idowu, to his international team mate, Odion Ighalo, but his left footed strike is comfortably picked up from Jordan Pickford in the England goal. The Three Lions responded, as Sterling fires over the upright, after Harry Kane paves the way for Alli down the middle, to tee the ball up for Sterling’s strike at goal. However, in the thirty ninth minute, England find a second, with a right footed strike from Kane into the bottom left corner, who is instrumental in the build up as he initially lays the ball off to Sterling, before finding himself in space and curling a superb effort through the legs of Illias Haddad before nestling into the net off the knee of Uzoho. Before the re-start, Nigeria replace Ogenyi Onazi with Oghenekaro Etebo, Tyronne Ebuehi for Abdullahi Shehu, John Ogu for Obi and Kenneth Omeruo for Balogun. Two minutes in, Iwobi scores for Nigeria, when he starts the move with Ighalo, who crashes the ball against the upright, before Iwobi hammers the rebound, into the bottom right corner. In the sixty second minute, Dier misses with a header following a corner by Young, before Nigeria change Victor Moses with Ahmed Musa. England soon make changes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Lingard and Danny Rose replacing Young. On seventy minutes, a fine run down the left by Musa, puts the ball into the danger zone, and Stones gives the ball away to Ogehenekaro Etebo, before John Obi Mikel tests Pickford, by letting fly with a right footed strike from outside the box. Further changes by England sees Danny Welbeck on for Kane and Marcus Rashford taking over from Sterling. Later, Nigeria take off Ighalo for Kelechi Iheanacho. After Rashford’s long range effort went out wide to the left, through an Alli assist, Fabian Delph took over from Alli. On eighty six minutes, Delph sent over a diagonal delivery to the back post, which was headed over the crossbar by Rashford. A big punch away from Pickford, clears away a dangerous cross from Tyronne Ebuehi, that Mikel Obi is trying to get his head to, but the England keeper rescues the situation to secure a 2-1 home win.