Nigeria stage a stunning comeback in an entertaining Group A fixture...
Hosts Nigeria came back from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Germany in their opening match of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup at the Abuja National Stadium on Saturday night.
The draw kept intact Nigeria's unbeaten run against the European champions at this level having won their previous clashes in 1985 and 2007.
Germany opened scoring in the 21st minute through a header by danger man Lennart Thy, before Shkodran Mustafi doubled the German advantage in the 39th minute.
The European champions added a third goal through a Mario Goetze header. Stanley Okoro pulled a goal back for the defending champions in the 54th minute from the penalty spot after substitute Omoh Ojabu was brought down inside the box.
Nigeria made it a more interesting contest when Kenneth Omeruo header home a Stanley Okoro corner in the 59th minute before substitute Edafe Egbedi made the Eaglets comeback complete when he stabbed home a rebound two minutes later.
Probably, the turning points for Nigeria was the sending off of German defender Robert Labus in the 53rd minute for a professional foul on goal-bound Ojabu.
Nigeria's top star Okoro, nicknamed 'Little Messi', lifted sagging morale when he put away the resulting penalty kick and spark off a late fight back.
After the poor turnout for the preceding Group A match between Argentina and Honduras at the 60,000-capacity Abuja National Stadium, a bigger crowd expectedly came through for this match.
Nigeria's Stanley Okoro first threatened the German goal area but it was Germany's Mario Gotze who came closest to getting on the scoresheet as early as the ninth minute when he hit the post from six yards out.
Ramon Azeez shot from distance was easily dealt with after 13 minutes before White Agwuocha failed to make hay when all alone inside the German 18-yard box.
Nigeria's defensive frailties were fully exposed in the 21st minute when the highly-rated Thy pulled himself away from his marker to head past goalkeeper Dami Paul for the opening goal.
The Germans would have pulled farther away 10 minutes later but Paul kept out Florin Trinks' header from inside the box.
But after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Agwuocha in the 33rd minute, Mustafi extended the German lead. The Nigerian goalkeeper had done well to palm away for corner, but from the resultant corner, Mustafi sidefooted for the second goal.
The game opened up in the second half beginning with Okoro driving through the German defence only for his shot to be easily dealt with by the goalkeeper.
A minute later, Germany went three goals in front when a diving header by Goetze inside a crowded Nigerian area crept past the goalkeeper.
Belief kept the Nigerian youngsters going and when they netted their first goal from the penalty spot, their confidence soared.
Terry Envoh was full of running from the flanks and combined with some inspired substitutions, the Nigerians rose to the occasion as 10-man Germany barely hung on for dear life.
Samm Audu, Goal.com