x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Nigeria and Sweden play out thrilling 3-3 draw

Nigeria and Sweden played out a sensational 3-3 draw in one of the best matches of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup so far.

Chidiebere Nwakali passes the ball for Nigeria during a match with Sweden. Razan Alzayani / The National
Chidiebere Nwakali passes the ball for Nigeria during a match with Sweden. Razan Alzayani / The National

SWEDEN 3

Berisha 11’, 19’, Halvadzic 65’

NIGERIA 3

Isaac 22’, Yahaya 48’, Awoniyi 81’

MAN OF THE MATCH

Valmir Berisha (Sweden)

AL AIN // Nigeria and Sweden played out a sensational 3-3 draw in one of the best matches of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup so far.

Both teams were full of confidence after coming off big wins in their opening matches, with Sweden beating Iraq 4-1 and Nigeria whipping defending champion Mexico 6-1.

Nigeria started the better of the two teams, but it was Sweden who took the lead through a Valmir Berisha header on 11 minutes.

Nigeria stepped up their attack, but were finding it difficult to make any impression on a well-organised Swedish defence.

Sweden doubled their lead after 19 minutes, with Berisha scoring again on another header, this time from a left-wing cross.

The Nigerians, so dominant against Mexico on Saturday, looked shell-shocked.

A minute later, however, they pulled one back when Success Isaac scored on a brilliant volleyed goal.

Sweden’s ploy of searching out Berisha continued to worry Nigeria, who nevertheless threatened several times themselves before half time arrived with no further goals.

Three minutes after the restart, Nigeria were on level terms, a seemingly harmless shot from Musa Yahaya somehow finding its way through the keeper’s legs.

Nigeria’s tails were up and it looked like there would be only one winner from here on.

There were more twists, however. On 65 minutes, the substitute Mirza Halvadzic restored Sweden’s lead after a cross from Carlos Strandberg eventually reached him, despite a couple of deflections. He was left with a simple tap-in to make it 3-2.

The Swedes celebrated wildly, but there was plenty of time left for more goals. Sure enough, with 10 minutes left, another substitute, Nigeria’s Taiwo Awoniyi, sent the Nigerian fans into rapture with his country’s second equaliser of the night.

It would prove the last goal of the night and the two teams now share the lead at the top of Group F with four points each, and look almost certain to progress to the knock-out stages.

akhaled@thenational.ae

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