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Sloppy Super Eagles Beaten
Nigeria's Sani Kaita is sent off after lashing out at Greece's Vasilis Torosidis (far right)
The Super Eagles of Nigeria stand on the brink of elimination from the 2010 FIFA World Cup after losing 2–1 to Greece in their second 2010 FIFA World Cup Group B game at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Thursday afternoon.
It started out promising for Nigeria when they took the lead after 15 minutes as Kali Uche’s free-kick deceived the Greek defence and bounced over the line to put them in front.
But the game turned in the 33rd minute when Nigeria had Sani Kaita sent off and Greece were able to take control of proceedings from then on.
On the stroke of halftime, Greece drew level through Dimitris Salpigidis, and although Nigeria spurned a great opportunity to have taken the lead in the second half through Yakubu Ayegbeni, it was Greece who dominated proceedings.
They scored what proved to be the game winner through Vasileios Torosidis in the 71st minute to hand the country their first-ever victory at a FIFA World Cup finals.
After a slow start the game got the boost it needed Papastathopoulos was booked for a foul on Odemwingie and Nigeria were awarded a free-kick. Uche took the resulting set-piece and driving it goal wards from a distance of 40 yards.
Odemwingie ghosted in front of the Greece keeper, who concentrated on the Nigeria forward and lost sight of the ball, which bounced just beside him and past his outstretched arms and into the back of the net.
Greece received a numerical boost when Nigeria had midfielder Sani Kaita stupidly sent off. The Super Eagles number 14 stuck his boot into the thigh of Greek forward Salpingidis as he retaliated to being pushed.
Otto Rehhagel, the Greek coach, made a substitution soon after, taking off a defender and bringing on striker Georgios Samaras in order to take advantage of Nigeria’s numerical deficiencies.
With more men up front, Greece attacked with purpose in the 39th minute as Salpingidis was put through on goal and it took Man of the Match Vincent Enyeama to block the attackers shot from close range.
Two minutes later, from a corner from the right, Samaras had an effort cleared off the line by Haruna as Greece continued to pile on the pressure.
The pressure eventually paid dividends when they managed to draw level Salpingidis raced in and hit the ball with some power. It deflected off Haruna’s heel and beat Enyeama at his far post to score Greece’s first ever goal at the World Cup finals.
Nigeria nearly went ahead on 48 minutes through Uche as he tried a deft chip to beat the keeper from the left, and Tzorvas had to be at his best to tip the ball over his post.
Enyeama, just as he was in the first half, was Nigeria’s saviour in the second and came up with a big save 10 minutes after the break when he was at full stretch to stop a close-range header by Kyrgiakos from going past him.
It was end-to-end action in the 59th minute as first Greece could have gone ahead when Yobo attempted to clear the ball, but managed to just head it into the path of Vyntra, who shot for goal as soon as the ball got to him. Enyeama again got in the way making a superb block and Nigeria launched a counter-attack.
Obasi raced up the field up after being given the ball by Uche eventually he played it off to Yakubu, who's shot was miraculously stopped by Tzorvas. The rebound fell back to Obasi, but he too could not find the target sending his shot into the side netting.
Enyeama’s heroics continued to keep Nigeria alive in the 68th minute he was at his acrobatic best diving at full length to his left to keep out a header from Samaras.
The Nigerian keeper was beaten three minutes later though under questionable circumstances as Tziolis took a crack at goal from just outside the 18-yard area, but Enyeama could only manage to block the ball and it fell into the path of Torosidis, who toe p-oked it past the stranded keeper from close range.
Three Greek players looked to be in an offside position when the initial shot by Tziolis was taken, but the referee and his assistant though allowed play to proceed.
Nigeria now need to win big in their final group game against South Korea, while a draw for Greece when they face Argentina, who have already qualified for the knock-out phase will be enough to see them through to the Last 16.