The Super Eagles started the match against Venezuela in a 4-3-3 formation with Obafemi Martins, Brown Ideye and Bright Dike – making his debut for the national team.
The first minutes on the dry Marlins Park pitch saw the players trying to adjust to the bounce of the ball with the Venezuelans settling the quicker. Ejike in the second minute tried to jiggle his way past defenders in the box but conceded a free kick. Juan Arango almost found Salomon Rondon in the fifth minute which saw the Super Eagles defence exposed with just one pass.
The midfield trident of Ogenyi Onazi, Nosa Igiebor and Henry Uche were not well coordinated in the early part of the match with Onazi hitting too many short passes that put his mates in trouble. Igiebor was good on the ball and in the seventh minute released Ideye but the Dynamo Moscow striker saw his shot well gathered.
The Venezuelans thought they had scored the opener in the 14thminute off a free kick by Arango but the referee rightly adjudged that some Venezuelan players had strayed into offside positions.
Nigeria got a corner kick in the 20th minute that was taken by Solomon Kwambe but missed all his targets.
The Venezuelans were catching the Eagles defence with just one pass from midfield – Arango to Rondon and if not for the quick intervention of stand-in captain, Austin Ejide, the Eagles may have gone down to some goals.
A Rivas shot was deflected for a corner kick in the 25th minute while another good cross from Arango slightly eludes Rondon again.
The Eagles could have taken the lead in the 28th minute when Igiebor burst forward from midfield but his pas to Martins was a tad heavy with the Levante striker in good shooting position.
Henry Uche had to make way in the 33rd minute after he had been on the end of some heavy challenges and was replaced by Raheem Lawal. Martins had a shot on the turn in the 41st minute but it went wide.
The first half ended with the Eagles having the better of possession but the Venezuelans had the more goal scoring chances.
In the second half, the Eagles flew out of the blocks and scored the opening goal in the 47 minute through Ideye. A move started on the right by Igiebor saw Kwambe deliver a low cross into the box which was tapped in by the Dynamo Moscow striker for his first goal for the national team.
Igiebor followed that with a spectacular 40-yard shot in the 53rdminute that beat Hernandez in goal for Venezuela all ends up.
The South Americans reacted after these setbacks but were let back into the game when an otherwise steady Oboabona gave possession to Arango, who in turn fed Frank Veltra, who placed a low shot past Ejide.
Arango now led the charge for the equaliser and they had series of corner kicks but the Nigerian defence held firm. Shola Ameobi replaced Martins in the 61 minute – the Newcastle man making his international debut for Nigeria.
They could have gotten their equaliser in the 84thminute after another careless giveaway. Lawal was caught in possession near the box but Ejide made a good save with his leg to concede a corner kick.
There were unsavoury scenes in the closing stage of the match when Igiebor took his time getting substituted for which he was shown a yellow card. Onazi settled the affair in added time as he swept in a low shot after Ameobi has passed to him in the box to make it 3-1 to the Nigerian team.
Coach Stephen Keshi will have been very pleased with the performances of some of the players but some did not cover themselves in any glory.