John Mikel Obi and Kenneth Omeruo played the full match as Nigeria kept on course for the World Cup finals with a qualifier win in Kenya today (Wednesday).
The winner came inside the final 10 minutes from CSKA Moscow’s Ahmed Musa and gives his side a two-point lead in the group with two games to play, the next against Nambia in a week’s time. Victor Moses is absent due to injury.
Nathaniel Chalobah and Josh McEachran were second-half substitutes as England were defeated in their opening match at the European Under-21 Championships.
Italy won 1-0 in Israel, bringing to an end a run of nine straight wins without conceding for Stuart Pearce’s side. Chalobah, fresh from his play-off final appearance at Wembley for loan-club Watford, was introduced into midfield with 64 minutes played, replacing Bolton’s Marvin Sordell, and did his chances of more action in the tournament no harm.
McEachran came on 10 minutes later with Liverpool’s Jonjo Shelvey making way. Italy’s goal came four minutes later when Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne fired in a free-kick from just outside the area.
England had an earlier goal ruled out due to a questionable decision to award a free-kick but the brighter football came from Italy who had former Chelsea man Fabio Borini in attack. He could not make the most of his charging-down of a kick by England keeper Jack Butland when the game was still goalless.
Italy’s keeper pulled off a good save at the very end to deny Jordan Henderson a free-kick equaliser.
England Under-21s’ second game is on Saturday against Norway who drew their first match against hosts Israel.
Patrick van Aanholt is in the squad for Netherlands Under-21s who are in the other group, and begin tomorrow (Thursday) against Germany. Spain and Russia are the other teams competing with the top two in each group going into the semi-finals.
At Under-19 level, Nathan Ake played 90 minutes of a 2-1 win for the Netherlands over Norway. That was in the opening match of a four-team qualifying tournament for the European Under-19 Championships later in the summer.