Sweden U17 3-3 Nigeria U17: Eaglets survive Scandinavian scare
The Golden Eaglets continued their quest for a fourth Fifa U17 Championship trophy in blistering form as they came from two goals down to draw Roland Larsson's boys
By Shina Oludare
Nigeria drew 3-3 against Sweden on Tuesday evening to bring their impressive run at the Fifa U17 World Cup to a halt.
A second half rally by Garba Manu’s boys ensured the Eaglets avoided defeat in the hands of the Scandinavians.
The much talked about top of the table clash between the Group F sides kicked off on a very competitive note with both teams seeking for an early goal.
Sweden dominated the early stages of the game and could have shot to the lead in the 5th minute when Elias Anderson raced into the Nigerian defence but captain Musa Muhammed was up to the task by clearing the goal-bound move.
The Golden Eaglets’ first chance of the game came two minutes later but Chidera Ezeh could not connect to a sublime pass from Musa Yahaya from the left side of the Swedish defence.
Sweden however got rewarded for their dominating play in the 10th minute when Valmir Berisha tapped in the first goal for his side after a rather jittery goalkeeper Dele Alampasu rushed out unwisely in a bid to save Erdal Rakip’s header.
Eight minutes later, Berisha got his second after heading in a cross from Anton Saletros that caught the Nigerian defence unaware.
The Eaglets woke up from their slumber and got their first goal in the 21st minute off the boot of Isaac Success who skilfully volleyed the ball into the net off Kelechi Iheanacho’s cross.
All efforts for the Eaglets to get the much needed equalizer proved futile as the strong and physically fit Swedes muscled out the Nigerian attackers. Nigeria’s enthusiasm of getting the equalizer died down after Success was replaced by Taiwo Awoniyi following a hamstring injury.
In the closing stages of the first half, Nigeria’s chances of drawing level were thwarted by Sweden’s goalkeeper Mohlin who made crucial saves to deny the Africans.
On resumption of the second half, Nigeria invaded the Swedish defence and were rewarded for their enterprising play in the 48th minute as Musa Yahaya’s shot from 25 yards sailed under goalkeeper Mohlin and crossed the line before he could track back.
This goal propelled the Eaglets in search of the winner but their efforts were truncated by their opponents who now relied on counter-attacks after packing the bus in defence.
Sweden shot into the lead again in the 65th minute through substitute Mirza Halvadzic.
The Malmo FF midfielder punished the Nigerians for their poor defending by slotting the ball into an empty net after the Nigerian defence was fooled by Gustav Engvall's cross inside their penalty area.
Substitute Awoniyi made it 3-3 with a terrific header in the 81st minute after a well taken cross from Iheanacho from the left side.
Nigeria need a draw in their last group game against Iraq on October 25 at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai to book a place in the knock out stages.