Flying Eagles of Nigeria defeated Gli Azzurrini of Italy 2-0 in their second game of Group D at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Goals from Salim Fago Lawal and Jude Sunday proved vital as Nigeria secured three maximum points against the Italians on Wednesday at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina.
Ladan Bosso made just one change to the team which defeated Dominican Republic 2-1 in the opening game as Italy-based Victor Eletu was brought on for Tochukwu Nnadi in the midfield.
Eletu proved the change was essential when he attempted the first shot on target in the game but Sebastiano Desplanches, the Italian goalkeeper, gathered easily.
The Azurrini, who thrashed Brazil 3-0 in their first game, almost took the lead in the 20th minute but Cesare Casadei struck the woodwork.
The Flying Eagles resumed control of the game, and two consecutive chances fell to Sunday and Samson Lawal but none could beat Desplanches.
Nigerian then suffered another scare when it appeared the ball had clipped the arm of Solomon Agbalaka inside the goal area. An extensive video assistant referee (VAR) review was followed by the referee deciding against a penalty.
After the first-half break, Bosso sent on the double substitution of Nnadi and Emmanuel Umeh for Samon Lawal and Ibrahim Muhammed.
Shortly after, Nigeria broke the deadlock. Umeh held off an Italian defender in the goal area before calmly scooping a cross onto Fago Lawal, who glanced a header to the top corner.
The Nigerians gave little away as they guarded their lead into the later stage of the game.
Deep into stoppage time, Jude Sunday added another goal for Nigeria as he slotted the ball between the legs of Desplanches after reacting fastest to a clearance by Kingsley Aniaboso, the Eagles goalkeeper.
The victory takes Nigeria to the summit of the group with six points. The Flying Eagles will play Brazil on Saturday in their final game of the group.