Friday's World Cup: Musa lifts Nigeria past Iceland
Volgograd, Russia — Ahmed Musa gave Nigeria its first win at this year’s World Cup, and gave Argentina a gift.
Musa scored two second-half goals to help the Nigerians beat Iceland, 2-0, Friday and move into second place in the group behind already-qualified Croatia.
Nigeria will face Argentina in its final group match on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. If Nigeria wins, it will advance to the round of 16. But if Argentina claims all three points, it can still advance depending on the result of the other match between Croatia and Iceland.
Musa, Nigeria’s all-time leading World Cup scorer with four goals, has played well against Argentina before. His two previous goals came at the 2014 tournament in Brazil in a group match against the two-time champions.
“It’s possible I’m going to score another two goals,” the 25-year-old Musa said.
On Friday, Musa gave Nigeria the lead in the 49th minute after Victor Moses sprinted deep into the Iceland half and curled a cross to the near post. Musa deftly controlled the ball before slamming it past Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson on the half-volley.
Nigeria nearly doubled its lead on several occasions, but Musa made it happen in the 75th minute. He picked up the ball on the left side of the Iceland penalty area, mazed his way past Halldorsson and picked his spot in the Iceland goal.
“I think the control made it more perfect for me,” said Musa, who hinted he wants to leave Premier League club Leicester and play for CSKA Moscow.
Iceland, the smallest nation ever to compete in the World Cup, was not as effective as it had been against Argentina when it earned a surprise 1-1 draw.
Still, the European champion quarterfinalists had a chance to get one back but Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a penalty kick over the Nigeria bar in the 83rd minute. The penalty was awarded after a video review showed that Alfred Finnbogason had been brought down by Tyronne Ebuehi.
Brazil 2, Costa Rica 0: Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored injury-time goals to help Brazil beat Costa Rica at St. Petersburg, Russia.
Coutinho poked the ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the first minute of injury time, and Neymar volleyed in another with virtually the last kick of the game six minutes later.
Neymar then broke down in tears and sobbed for several moments. His teammates helped him off the ground to celebrate.
It had looked like Brazil, after drawing its opening game 1-1 with Switzerland, was heading for another stalemate.
Brazil attacked relentlessly in the second half and was awarded a penalty in the 78th when Neymar was impeded as he cut inside defender Giancarlo Gonzalez. But referee Bjorn Kuipers went over to look at the sideline monitor and reversed the decision.
Brazil has four points heading into its final group game against Serbia on Wednesday.
Switzerland 2, Serbia 1: Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored in Switzerland’s victory over Serbia at Kaliningrad, Russia, and both celebrated by making a nationalist symbol to their ethnic Albanian heritage.
In the tournament’s first come-from-behind victory, Xhaka made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute with a powerful shot through a crowded penalty. Shaqiri added the other in injury time after running past the Serbian defense.
Both put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania’s national flag. The thumbs represent the heads of the two eagles, while the fingers look like the feathers.
The gesture is likely to inflame tensions among Serb nationalists and ethnic Albanians.
Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s independence and relations between the two countries remain tense. Xhaka’s parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored for Serbia with a header in the fifth minute.
The win puts Switzerland into second place in Group E with four points, the same as Brazil. The Swiss will advance to the round of 16 if they beat Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.
World Cup schedule
Belgium vs. Tunisia, 8 a.m. (Fox)
Korea vs. Mexico, 11 a.m. (Fox)
Germany vs. Sweden, 2 p.m. (Fox)
England vs. Panama, 8 a.m. (FS1)
Japan vs. Senegal, 11 a.m. (Fox)
Poland vs. Colombia, 2 p.m. (Fox)