Confederations Cup 2013: Three lessons as Uruguay beat Nigeria
Confederations Cup 2013: What did we learn as a superb Diego Forlan strike was all that separated Nigeria and Uruguay?
Uruguay out-think Nigeria
Uruguay emerged victorious over their Group B opponents on Thursday evening at the Arena Fonte Nova. In truth, it was a rather open affair that held the attention from start to finish, with snippets of tremendous football throughout its 95 minutes. The Super Eagles started the brighter of the two sides and began to reap the rewards of attacking down the flanks as they tried to bring themselves back into the game having fallen behind mid-way through the first half. However, following the restart, despite maintaining the majority of possession, Stephen Keshi’s men were unable to continue to attack down the wings with the same success as before and couldn’t quite find a way through the Uruguayan defence as the match wound down. Their goal, which came following some great footwork in the box from John Obi Mikel to get past Diego Lugano was, unfortunately, as good as it would get for Nigeria. Of course, credit should be given to Oscar Tabarez’s tactical nouse in cancelling out the wide threat posed by the likes of Uwa Echiejile and company, as La Celeste‘s back-four were able to hold out through a mixture of experience and cynicism.
Uruguay’s attacking trio fail to gel
Aside from the manner in which they counter-attacked to allow Diego Forlan in to net his first goal of the tournament, the Charrúas front three were incapable of combining fluently on a consistent basis on Thursday night. Tabarez had started all three for only the third time since becoming manager in an attempt to overpower the Nigerian defence, however they failed to impress as the South-Americans were forced to rely on counter attacks and dogged defending. On one particular occasion, with Forlan primed to fire in a free-kick, the Internacional front-man fooled the Nigerian defence and instead chipped a ball onto the head of Edinson Cavani, who failed to connect properly as his effort flew wide of the mark. Overall, it was a disappointing performance from the three-pronged attack as a unit, with only one of them really performing to the best of his ability.
Forlan steals show on his 100th cap
With less than 20 minutes gone on the clock, Uruguay found themselves a goal to the good after some hesitant defending from Celtic star Efe Ambrose and the rest of the Nigerian rearguard resulted in a poor clearance that fell to the feet of Forlan on the left wing. The 34-year-old veteran showed great coolness and awareness to find Diego Lugano in the crowded box, and it was only a matter for the captain to swing his boot out to send the ball home. Then in the second half, the former Manchester United player found the back of the net himself after he was set up nicely by a well-weighted pass from Cavani. The resulting left-footed effort was a joy to behold and had the Nigeria shot-stopper Vincent Enyeama beaten all ends up. The win means that Uruguay are the favourites to progress in second place, despite being level on points with the Super Eagles as they have yet to play Tahiti, whereas the Africans face a very difficult final group game against world champions Spain.