Flying Eagles Off To Shaky Start, Lose 2-3 To Portugal

flying eagles celebrate

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles on Friday in Kayseri lost 2-3 to Portugal at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

In their opening Group B match at the Kadir Has Stadium, watched by a crowd of 10,428, the Nigerian side rallied from two goals down to level scores at 2-2 but were stunned when Portugal grabbed a winner almost immediately.

A brace from team captain Abduljaleel Ajagun had raised Nigerian hopes, after staying 0-2 down at half-time, but Bruma went on to score to claim his double for a Portuguese victory.

Any hope of completing a fight back evaporated when the team coached by Sam Obuh fell behind again to allow the former champions triumph in a pulsating win which took them to the top of the group.

The match was the third on the opening day of the competition, with France having beaten Ghana 3-1 earlier in a Group A match.

Korea Republic also beat Cuba 2-1 in an early Group B game, while Spain later edged the U.S 4-1 in another Group A match.

After a slow start, Portugal, who were competition champions in 1989 and 1991 began to make the best of the running.

The pressure finally paid off with Bruma making no mistake by slotting confidently past the advancing Samuel Okani following a slick pass by team captain Joao Mario after 30 minutes.

Aladje made it 2-0 four minutes later, after Bruma was found in all sorts of space on the left and Okani could only palm his shot, leaving Aladje to tap into the open net.

While Nigeria had their chances to draw a goal back, none were better than Ajagun’s two efforts from close range, forcing Sa into a stunning double save right on half-time.

After the break Nigeria looked keen to reduce the deficit, and they did just that just before the hour mark.

A sublime through-ball from Olarenwaju Kayode in the 57th minute found Ajagun, who this time beat Sa with a deft dink over the on-rushing goalkeeper.

Ajagun then drew the Flying Eagles level with an even better effort 10 minutes later, after a deep corner-kick found him all alone in the Portuguese penalty area.

He controlled the ball and sublimely curled it into the far corner of Sa’s goal.

In what was now an end-to-end game, Nigeria’s joy was however short-lived as Bruma got his second of the game less than two minutes later.

He latched on to Ricardo Esgaio’s through ball to slot inside the near post from the edge of the area.

Ajagun had the chance to bag his hat-trick ten minutes from time, but Sa was on hand with another fine save, for the Europeans to hang on for victory.

The loss left the Flying Eagles in third place in the group after one match each for the four teams, following Korea Republic’s win over Cuba earlier in the day.