John Mikel Obi and Kenneth Omeruo helped Nigeria stay in contention for the knockout stages with a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Saturday’s late game at the World Cup, after Christian Atsu had featured well for Ghana in a gripping draw with Germany.
Nigeria now need one point from their final game although that will be against Argentina who have already qualified thanks to two wins. They will also progress if Iran fail to beat Bosnia who are out,
Stoke City’s Peter Odemwingie scored the only goal of the game for Nigeria past club team-mate Amir Begovic in the first half, with Mikel having dragged an early shot wide. Bosnia and Herzegovina did put the African champions’ defence under pressure and Omeruo (pictured below) played a significant part in them keeping a second clean sheet, although they were fortunate late on when Eden Dzeko hit a post. The Man City striker also fell foul of an earlier controversial offside call.
Nigeria, whose best work was done on the counter-attack, left Victor Moses on the bench.
Andre Schurrle was also an unused sub for Germany in an earlier game but Atsu again started wide on the right for Ghana.
It was also the second game for these nations and both remain in the shake-up for qualification to the knockout stages with Germany leading on four points and Ghana with one.
Atsu (pictured top), who had caught the eye in Ghana’s opening game defeat by the United States, was as lively and threatening as anyone on pitch in Fortaleza tonight during a goalless first half. The winger’s cross from the right was blasted off-target by Asamoah Gyan who should have done better, and then Atsu himself shot powerfully on target from distance but saw it well saved.
Germany broke the deadlock with 50 minutes played, Mario Gotze stooping to head in Thomas Muller’s diagonal ball clipped into the area.
Ghana’s leveller less than four minutes later came from an even better header from a similar delivery, Harrison Afful with the supply and Andre Ayew with the finish.
The Africans went ahead on 62 minutes, Gyan smashing the ball past Manuel Neuer from a Sulley Muntari defence-splitter.
Ghana could have extended the lead before just-introduced substitute Miroslav Klose equalised from close range with 20 minutes to go, the striker joining Ronaldo as all-time World Cup top scorer on 15 goals.
Atsu, who spent last season on loan at Vitesse, had his evening come to an end soon after, the 22-year-old substituted on 72 minutes.
Both sides threatened on several occasions late on to win a game that was up there with the most entertaining in this World Cup so far, but Ghana now have to beat Portugal on Thursday to keep their hopes alive. Germany play the USA at the same time.
Nigeria finish their group games on Wednesday.