Nigeria began their quest for a first FIFA U-20 World Cup triumph with a 2-1 win over debutants Dominican Republic at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza. The Flying Eagles, making their 13th appearance in the tournament, secured victory in Argentina despite facing some challenges.
The Nigerian team had an early penalty appeal denied when Kleffer Martes appeared to handle the ball inside the 18-yard box. In the 13th minute, Jude Sunday’s shot was deflected, but Muhammed failed to convert the opportunity from the edge of the box.
As the first half progressed, Dominican Republic thought they deserved a penalty after Benjamin Fredrick fouled an opponent. However, the Flying Eagles had their chance to take the lead, with Jude Sunday evading defenders but ultimately missing the target.
In the 23rd minute, a VAR review favored the debutant team, and Edison Azcona calmly scored the penalty, putting Dominican Republic ahead. Nevertheless, Nigeria fought back and equalized after half an hour when Guillermo Ronaldo Peña’s header unintentionally beat his own goalkeeper.
Jude Sunday continued to be a threat, launching powerful shots in search of a second goal, but Valdez made crucial saves. VAR intervened again, ruling out a potential penalty for Nigeria due to a handball by Salim Fago Lawal.
The introduction of Emmanuel Umeh in the second half injected more pace into the Nigerian side. Although Jude Sunday appeared to score a second goal in the 68th minute, it was disallowed for offside. However, Samson Lawal capitalized on a poor back pass by Israel Boatwright, giving Nigeria the lead in the 70th minute.
Nigeria had further opportunities to extend their advantage, with Sarki and Tochukwu Nnadi coming close but failing to convert their chances. In the final minutes of the game, Dominican Republic’s Edison Azcona unleashed a superb long-range shot, but Nigerian goalkeeper Aniagboso made a vital save.
Overall, Nigeria started their U-20 World Cup campaign on a positive note, securing a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Dominican Republic