*Finish top of Group A
After going a goal down early against Argentina in their final Group A game in Bauchi, hosts and holders Nigeria stormed back to win 2-1 and book their place in the knockout stages as section winners. Argentina, who went into the game already assured of qualification, will have to settle for second place.

Nigeria’s first game away from the capital began at a torrid pace. Barely had two minutes ticked off the clock than the Argentine guests already assured of a place in the knockout rounds and with many changes in the squad -offered their hosts no favours by scoring the opener. After quite a nice build-up, Esteban Orfano took control of the ball, burst into the area and slammed a left-footer home to silence the home crowd.

The Bauchi faithful didn’t have long to wait for their beloved Golden Eaglets to draw level when, in the fifth minute, a corner kick was flicked on expertly at the near post by Kenneth Omeruo, for Omoh Ojabu to push home from six yards out.

The game began to calm down a bit after the madcap start, with both sides settling into their rhythm. The hosts were hampered when scorer Ojabu injured his knee and needed to be replaced in the 31st minute, Sani Emmanuel replacing him. The new man missed a golden chance to score just two minutes after coming on. Damian Martinez spilled a shot from distance, but Emmanuel somehow conspired to chip his rebound from six yards over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Shortly after, the Argentine keeper was at work again when he pushed Ramon Azeez’s dangerous snap shot from 30 yards around the post.

The Nigerians began the second half hunting a winner and putting Argentina on the back foot. Finally, after multiple waves of attack, they got the breakthrough they needed when Federico Rasmussen hauled down Olarenwaju Kayode in the penalty area. Substitute Emmanuel, of all people, stepped up bravely to make an amends for his profligate earlier miss to hammer home a perfect penalty and make it 2-1 for the hosts.

•CELEBRATION: Omoh Ojabu (R) of Nigeria celebrates with his team mates after scoring
•CELEBRATION: Omoh Ojabu (R) of Nigeria celebrates with his team mates after scoring

With seven points from their three Group A games, Nigeria are through to the knockout stages as first-place in the section. Argentina finish second with six points, while Germany, who beat Honduras in their game in Abuja, will have to wait and see if their four points are enough to see them through as one of the top third place finishers.


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