Nigerian goalkeeper Odinaka Francis Uzoho was in superb form on Thursday night to inspire his new club Elche to a 2-1 victory over Granada on his debut appearance.
The 19-year old shot stopper late last month joined the Segunda division side on a season-long loan deal from Racing Club Deportivo but has not featured for Elche since completing his transfer.
Uzoho has been Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper since making his debut in November 2017 played for the Super Eagles in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles last Saturday but pulled out of the team’s exhibition game against Liberia on Tuesday.
The ASPIRE Academy product returned to his club in good time to be handed his debut by Elche manager Juan Jose Rojo ‘Pacheta’ in their Spanish Copa Del Rey clash with Granada at the Estadio Martinez Valero on Thursday night.
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Uzoho’s contributions in the game helped his side to a 2-1 win, ending a run of four games winless streak in all competitions since the middle of August.
Veteran midfielder Jony Niguez gave Elche the lead from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute before Dani Provencio doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 67th minute. Granada however halved the deficit ten minutes from time through Pablo Vazquez to set up a tense finale.
Uzoho was to have the final say when he pulled off a double save, first to deny Vazquez and then Juancho seconds later with just one minute of normal time remaining and preserve his team’s lead.
Min. 89 | 2-1
¡Vaya paradón de Francis! Desde el suelo sacó 2 manos buenísimas el meta nigeriano para evitar el empate.#ElcheGranada #MuchoElche
— Elche Club de Fútbol 🌴🥇 (@elchecf) September 13, 2018
Elche have now qualified for the third round of the Copa Del Rey where they will face another Segunda division side in the midweek of October 17.