England got their preparations for the 2018 World Cup off to the best start as they edged past Nigeria 2-1 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Three Lions enjoyed a fantastic start and were in control thanks to first-half strikes from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane. Alex Iwobi earned the Nigerians a lifeline on 47 minutes with a guided finish but Gareth Southgate’s men held on to secure the victory.
Perfect start for the Three Lions
Strangely, it was Kieran Trippier who had the first sight of goal as the Three Lions enjoyed an excellent opening half. From a free-kick, the Tottenham man tested Francis Uzoho but the ball was well palmed away from the top corner.
The lead was claimed from the resultant corner, however. Trippier was again at the centre of things as his excellent cross found the head of Cahill. The Chelsea defender powerfully nodded the ball into the top corner to lift Wembley onto its feet.
England continued to threaten as Raheem Sterling’s fierce drive was deflected away by Leon Balogun. Cahill then just failed to convert from Ashley Young’s cross. Sterling also spurned an excellent opportunity as he rolled away from Ekong but could only put his low finish wide of the upright.
Chances come and go at Wembley
Gareth Southgate’s men continued to carve out opportunities but Nigeria held firm. Young had a chance from close range but an excellent block preserved the score-line.
A flowing move then saw Jesse Lingard presented with an opportunity but a solid stop from Uzoho again kept the hosts at bay. Sterling also continued to cause problems and again got in behind but was thwarted by another good save from the Nigerian stopper. The Manchester City man was then fed by Dele Alli but blazed his effort over the crossbar.
Kane cannons home before half-time
England did not have to wait much longer to notch their second through Kane. Patient play from Sterling saw the striker find space on the edge of the penalty area and hammer home with a stunning low strike to give Southgate’s men a two-goal advantage going into the break.
Their momentum was ground to a halt just minutes into the second-half as Iwobi powered home. Odion Ighalo was unfortunate to see his finish cannon off of the post after out-strengthening Kyle Walker. The rebound though was dispatched emphatically by the Arsenal man to earn the Super Eagles a foothold.
Substitute Danny Welbeck could have secured the victory but a great challenge from William Troost-Ekong stopped his shot in its tracks. The game appeared to peter out in the closing stages as England wrapped up their victory.
England’s performance in the first-half was a stunning showing. Nigeria had no answer for the Three Lions’ offensive play. As a result, they deservedly lead at half-time.
Despite that, they really sat off in the second-period and allowed the Super Eagles back into the clash. There was not the same intensity or drive from Southgate’s men and that will disappoint supporters. However, most will see the game as a useful exercise, even more so considering that the Three Lions managed to claim the win.
Southgate’s men now turn their attentions to another friendly with Costa Rica at Elland Road on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr clash with the Czech Republic on Wednesday evening.
England: Pickford (7), Stones (6), Cahill (8), Walker (6); Trippier (7), Dier (7), Alli (7) (Delph (N/A), 81′), Young (7) (Rose (6), 68′); Sterling (7) (Rashford (5), 74′), Kane (7) (Welbeck (5), 73′), Lingard (7) (Loftus-Cheek (6), 67′).
Nigeria: Uzoho (6); Idowu (6), Ekong (7), Balogun (7) (Omeru (6), 46′), Onazi (6) (Etebo (), 46′); Mikel (7), Obi (6) (Ogu (6), 46′), Shehu (7) (Ebuehi (6), 46′); Ighalo (7) (Iheanacho (N/A), 77′), Moses (6) (Musa (6), 63′), Iwobi (7).
Goals: Cahill (7′), Kane (39′), Iwobi (47′)
Referee: Marco Guida
Yellow Cards: Sterling (52′), Musa (77′)
Red Cards: N/A
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!