Midfielder Ibrahim Sai’d scored the tournament’s first hattrick to send Nigeria through to the next round of the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil after a 3-2 win over dogged Ecuador in Goiania.
Tournament’s record winners, Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets came from behind twice before dispatching Hungary in their first game on Saturday and were again required to come from behind on Tuesday despite scoring the opening goal.
Sai’d opened scoring for Manu Garba’s side in the 5th minute when he capitalised on a defensive miscommunication on the part of the Ecuadorians to finish from over 30 yards out.
The lead however did not last for more than five minutes as the South Americans levelled matters in the 10th minute through an unfortunate own goal by Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu. Adrian Mejia’s long tange effort hit the foot of Jinadu’s post before rebounding into the net off his back.
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At Under 17 level, Manu Garba starts eleven players without a single left footed player in the midst. That is not good for development. #U17WC #NGAECU
— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) October 29, 2019
Garba made a change on the half hour mark, bringing in Akinkunmi Amoo once again for striker Wisdom Ubani as the Nigerians sought to find a creative spark. First half ended 1-1.
Ecuador went in front in the 56th minute after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) spotted Nigerian defender Charles Etim to have clipped Mejia’s left ankle inside the box. Johan Mina duly obliged, sending Jinadu the wrong way.
Not to be outdone anyways, Nigeria once again scored two late goals both from Ibrahim Sai’d to turn it around for the five times winners.
First, the Dabo Babes Academy prospect curled home a superb effort from 20 yards in the 85th minute to bring the game back to parity before he finished off a brilliant team move one minute from time.
The win automatically seals Nigeria’s place in the round of 16 and the Eaglets join fellow Africans Angola who also defeated Canada 2-1 as the first two teams to progress to the next round.
Nigeria will face Australia in their final group game at the Estádio Bezerrão in Gama on Friday.