x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Taiwo Awoniyi struck twice as Nigeria extended their pursuit of a fourth Fifa Under 17 World Cup title by overpowering Uruguay on Saturday night at Sharjah Club in their quarter-final tie.

Taiwo Awoniyi got Nigeria flying with a pair of goals to lift the Golden Eaglets into the semi-finals thanks to a 2-0 win over Uruguay. Ali Haider / EPA
Taiwo Awoniyi got Nigeria flying with a pair of goals to lift the Golden Eaglets into the semi-finals thanks to a 2-0 win over Uruguay. Ali Haider / EPA

URUGUAY 0 NIGERIA 2

Nigeria: Awoniyi 18’, 79’

Man of the match: Chidiebere Nwakali (Nigeria)

SHARJAH // Taiwo Awoniyi struck twice as Nigeria extended their pursuit of a fourth Fifa Under 17 World Cup title by overpowering Uruguay on Saturday night at Sharjah Club in their quarter-final tie.

The Golden Eaglets clinched a semi-final meeting with unheralded Sweden in Dubai on Tuesday after breaking the resistance of the South American side.

The opening goal was exquisitely executed. On 18 minutes Kelechi Iheanacho, the right-sided attacker, slipped a pass through the inside-right channel.

Awoniyi, Nigeria’s target man centre-forward, peeled off his marker, raced on to the through ball and fired into the bottom corner without breaking stride.

Uruguay passed up a decent chance to level shortly after when Leandro Otormin, the right winger, failed to control a close-range header at a corner.

It said much for the plucky resolve of Uruguay that they refused to be cowed by their effervescent opponents, who were backed by raucous support.

For vast swathes of the first period, Nigeria looked irresistible when on the ball, but it was Uruguay who fashioned the clearer chances.

It was a similar story after the interval, other than the fact the Uruguayans assumed control of the lion’s share of possession.

Enrique Etcheverry stung the fingertips of Dele Alampasu, the Nigeria goalkeeper, with a shot from the edge of the box.

However, that was to be their last real chance to square the tie. Within minutes, Nigeria had doubled their advantage, and it was the same combination who produced the goods.

With a clear shooting opportunity available to him, Iheanacho unselfishly slipped a pass across the box to Awoniyi, who made no mistake with the goal at his mercy.

Defeat was harsh on the courageous Uruguayans, and was visibly tough to take. Thiaga Cardozo, their goalkeeper, was in floods of tears when the second goal went in, and there was still 11 minutes of normal time to run.

The Nigerians may not have been as prolific as they had been to this point of the competition. But they still remain the team to beat on this evidence.

pradley@thenational.ae

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