But Iceland qualified for this World Cup fairly easily and then went ahead and got a draw against Argentina and Lionel Messi in its opener. • Only five minutes after surrendering a goal in that game, Iceland answered on a poached shot by Alfred ...
58’: More From Nigeria
Ndidi whips in a high shot that draws a leaping save from keeper Halldorsson.
54’: Iceland’s Sigurdsson Banged Up
Extended treatment for Sigurdsson of Iceland. He was belted in the head as the goal was scored. He is fitted with a head bandage, which, weirdly, is pink.
49’: GOAL! Nigeria!
Victor Moses raced down the sideline and sent a cross into the box for Ahmed Musa. He controlled it nicely with his first touch, then used his second to slam it home. Nigeria leads!
Andrew Das: Musa earned every single bit of that goal. Won a header in the center of the field, fell down while doing it, scrambled to his feet, made up the ground, called for the cross, brought it down with a magnificent touch and then buried it off the short hop. That’s a full day in 10 seconds.
Second Half Kicks Off
Tyronne Ebuehi in for Idowu, who had a yellow for Nigeria.
Nigeria Yet to Get a Shot on Goal
Six shots for Iceland, with two of them on goal. But a big zero for Nigeria. Iceland played a more direct style, while Nigeria built from the back, possessing the ball more and passing more and more accurately. But you do need to shoot to get a goal, ordinarily.
Iceland was the better team, but the score remains 0-0.
46’: Chance for Iceland
Free kick leads to a five-man Iceland rush to the net. It’s Finnbogason who gets a foot to it, but it’s wide. Should have done better there.
44’: Fans Looking Sleepy
The cameras capture fans of both teams watching the game. Their Cups might be on the line, but frankly many of them look bored. Not a ton of action on the pitch.
Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho fought for possession during their World Cup match on Friday. Credit Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters37’: Starting to Resemble a Soccer Match
A good Iceland cross whistles past the goal. Bjarnason and Bodvarsson run hard but each are half a step behind.
35’: We Have a Shot!
Bjarnason turns and shoots, but it goes far over the bar. Iceland leads in shots 3-0 now.
33’: Nigeria Winning the Fashion Game
Just about everyone who sees them falls for Nigeria’s jerseys. Pale green and white zigzags on the body and then a black and white zigzag pattern on the arms. It was a sartorial gamble but it paid off.
28’: Tiny Iceland
There is, to put it mildly, a big discrepancy between these nations. Nigeria is a country of 180 million. Iceland has 330,000 citizens to select from. And that includes children and the elderly. Iceland is the smallest country ever to play in a World Cup.
23’: Rough Start for Nigeria’s Moses
Victor Moses of Nigeria gets clobbered by a high kick from Iceland, then seconds later is conked by a ball batted away by his keeper.
Iceland’s Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson and Nigeria’s Wilfred Ndidi during their World Cup match on Friday. Credit Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters17’: Iceland Players Using Their Heads
Nigeria gets the ball in the box three or four times in a row, but it’s cleared each time by Iceland. Nothing shot-like in the sequence. A corner follows, but it too is cleared. Many of the clearances were by the heads of the tall Iceland players.
15’: Slow Going Early
Chances are thin so far, with the evenly matched game living up to its billing. No shots at all yet for Nigeria.
8’: Corner for Nigeria
Iheanacho takes, but it’s headed away safely.
4’: Free Kick to Iceland
Sigurdsson forces a leaping save by Uzoho. That kick was going right in the upper corner. Good save.
Iceland in blue, Nigeria in cool lime green. Argentina fans will be following the game closely. Argentina is in a bad spot after a draw and a loss. But If Iceland wins here, it will be in an even worse spot.
Iceland’s Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: 1 Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Randers FC)
Defenders: 14 Kari Arnason (Vikingur); 2 Birkir Saevarsson (Valur); 18 Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City); 2 Ragnar Sigurdsson (FC Rostov)
Midfielders: 8 Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa); 10 Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton); 19 Rurik Gislason (SV Sandhausen); 17 Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City)
Forwards: 11 Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg); 22 Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading)
Nigeria’s Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: 23 Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna)
Defenders: 5 William Troost Ekong(Bursaspor); 2 Brian Idowu (Amkar Perm); 6 Leon Balogun (Brighton); 22 Kenneth Omeruo (Chelsea)
Midfielders: 10 John Mikel Obi (Tianjin Teda); 4 Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester); 8 Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense)
Forwards: 7 Ahmed Musa (Leicester); 14 Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester); 11 Victor Moses (Chelsea)
Iceland vs. Nigeria Top Story Lines
• Iceland’s run to the quarterfinals of the European Championship in 2016 had the feel of a once-in-a-lifetime event. But Iceland qualified for this World Cup fairly easily and then went ahead and got a draw against Argentina and Lionel Messi in its opener.
• Only five minutes after surrendering a goal in that game, Iceland answered on a poached shot by Alfred Finnbogason.
• What The Times said: “Iceland is a well-organized, well-drilled side, made up of hard-working, disciplined professionals and sprinkled with just a little invention and stardust.”
• You may have heard that Iceland’s coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is a dentist. “Before anyone asks. I’m still a dentist, and I will never stop being a dentist,” he said.
• Nigeria, in contrast, was very disappointing in its opener, a sluggish 2-0 loss to Croatia.
• Even being outplayed, Nigeria found some bad luck. One goal was deflected, while the other came on a penalty, though William Troost-Ekong was surely guilty of an American football-style tackle there.
• The main man on offense has been Victor Moses, of Chelsea, but he was rarely able to beat the defense himself or get a good pass to someone who could.
• The bookmakers have this game as close as a tossup to any you will see at the World Cup. An Iceland win, a Nigeria win and a draw are all given almost equal chances.
World Cup 2018 (Soccer)