It started brightly for host team Cape Verde in Mindelo on Tuesday, but the Blue Sharks self destructed on their way to a 1-2 defeat to give Nigeria a massive leg up in Group C of FIFA World Cup qualifying. Victor Osimhen was there to capitalize on Cape Verde’s first critical mistake and an atrocious own goal from Kenny Rocha Santos was the final straw for a fortuitous Nigeria victory. With the victory and two wins from their opening two games, the top spot in the group is now Nigeria’s to lose.
The match was an even encounter and Nigeria had a solid game plan to get a result on the road, but Cape Verde got the opening goal they desired in the 19th minute. An aerial ball quickly switched sides for the hosts and caught the Nigerian defense off guard, allowing Dylan Tavares to sneak behind Moses Simon and the defensive line before he smashed a finish inside the near post that overwhelmed Super Eagles custodian Maduka Okoye.
By the half hour mark, the collapse for Cape Verde was already beginning after their positive start. In the 29th minute, Nigeria left back Jamilu Collins was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce that allowed him to get to the end line and put a cross into the danger area. Cape Verde defender Kelvin Pires miskicked his clearance and the ball shot back towards his goal. Goalkeeper Vozinha did brilliantly to react and get a hand to the ball, but the rebound fell right in front of goal and Nigeria star forward Osimhen applied the simple finish with Vozinha on the ground.
A positive result was up for grabs in the second half with the game tied at 1-1, but Cape Verde could not find a breakthrough and ended up handing another gift to the visitors. Vozinha was brilliant in the goal for the Blue Sharks, but he would be left out to dry once again in the 75th minute. Playmaker Kenny Rocha Santos collected the ball just before the halfway line and decided to play a backpass, but the ball skipped up on him and his touch was far more powerful than he desired and went into the air. The ball sailed past Vozinha and the keeper desperately tried to get back and clear, but the ball bounced over the line before he could get back in time for an awful own goal.
Nigeria took advantage and held out for the valuable road victory. A late surge from the hosts created one more test for Nigeria when an 88th minute long ball found a streaking Vagner Gonçalves, but the substitute forward’s header bounced past Okoye and just wide of the post.
Highlights are in the link below.