Brazil have secured passage to the U20 World Cup round of 16 with a 2-0 victory over an impressive Nigeria side.
Ramon Menezes’ team struck twice shortly before the break with goals from Jean Pedroso and Marquinhos. Brazil go through as group winners, despite losing their first game of the tournament to Italy.
The Italians finish second in the group, while Nigeria will also go through as one of the best third-place teams in the tournament. All three teams end the group stage with six points from three games. The Dominican Republican’s tournament is over after failing to pick up a point from their three fixtures and finishing bottom of the group.
In their final Group D game on Saturday Brazil looked a touch sharper than Nigeria but the ‘Super Eagles’ made life difficult for Menezes’ side. Brazil bounced back from their opening game loss with a swaggering 6-0 win over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday but Nigeria, who beat the impressive Italy last time out, refused to be cowed by the pre-tournament favourites.
In fact it was Nigeria who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata. However Brazil made the breakthrough shortly before halftime when central defender Jean Pedroso connected with a corner to nod past the stranded Nigerian goalkeeper. Moments later Brazil were on the attack again and Marquinhos was on hand to finish off a flowing move.
For Nigeria, the 18-year-old winger Jude Sunday impressed and he nearly opening the scoring in the early stages with a volley that crashed back off the crossbar. In yellow it was Guilherme Biro and Marquinos who came closest to adding to the tally, while the direct runs of Sávio once again caused problems, as they had against the Dominicans last time out.
Going into the game Nigeria knew that their brilliant start to the tournament meant that they were almost certain to make the last-16 stage, regardless of the result against Brazil. However the 2-0 win served to illustrate the quality that Brazil have in this squad and reiterated their status as one of the favourites to lift the U20 World Cup.
Ahead of the tournament Argentina were the most success side in this competition with six wins and they will hope to add to their tally on home soil. It now looks like five-time winners Brazil have a good chance of drawing level with their old enemy in the final on 11 June.