- Nigeria's U-20 national team, the Flying Eagles, secured their spot in the knockout stage of the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup with a convincing 2-0 victory over Italy in their Group D encounter at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on Wednesday.
In a minor lineup change, Flying Eagles coach Ladan Bosso introduced Victor Eletu, a product of AC Milan's youth system, into the starting eleven.
The game started with Nigeria having an early chance in the second minute, as Fago Salim unleashed a low shot that was saved by goalkeeper Sebastiano Desplanches.
Italy's Tomasso Baldanzi made his way into the Nigerian box but failed to hit the target with his attempt. Simone Pafundi also tried his luck but couldn't trouble Nigerian goalkeeper Kingsley Aniagboso.
Nigeria had a promising move break down in the 14th minute, as Salim Fago Lawal's shot was cleared by an Italian defender after good work from Ibrahim Muhammad and Victor Eletu.
The Flying Eagles were fortunate when the ball struck the crossbar before Benjamin Frederick cleared it, preventing Italy from taking the lead.
Nigeria also avoided a penalty call as VAR confirmed an earlier handball by an Italian player before Agbalaka's alleged handling of the ball.
The first half ended with Frederick receiving a yellow card for a foul on Baldanzi, and Aniagboso making a smart save to deny Italy an opening goal.
In the 61st minute, substitute Umeh Emmanuel provided a perfectly weighted cross to Salim Fago Lawal, who calmly headed home from close range, to give Nigeria the lead.
Italy's Daniele Montevago attempted a curling shot from a tight angle, but it was deflected for a corner, with some Italian players claiming a handball in the box.
Late in the game, Nigeria capitalized on a fast break and earned a corner, which led to their second goal. Jude Sunday found the back of the net, sealing the 2-0 victory for the Africans.
Despite a late Montevago header that Aniagboso had to save, Nigeria held on to secure the crucial win.