Sunday June 2nd, 2002
Argentina vs Nigeria in Ibaraki
Argentina only managed to beat Nigeria 1:0 but it could have been
Gabriel Batistuta scored Argentina's 101st World Cup finals goal, to
take his country to the top of the Group of Death; a
psychological advantage before they faced England, in Sapporo, on Friday.
With Roberto Ayala out of the game through injury, the captain's
armband went to Juan Sebastian Veron - who was keen to impress after what some might call
a disappointing season at Old Trafford.
The Manchester United midfielder combined well with Javier Zanetti,
Juan Pablo Sorin and Ariel Ortega but despite all their possession, Argentina went into
the break without a goal to show for it.
Both goalkeepers helped contribute to the stalemate: Nigeria's Ike
Shorunmu turning an Ariel Ortega strike over the bar in the 29th minute; and Pablo
Cavallero doing similar, to thwart Jay Jay Okocha, a couple of minutes later.
Argentina tried to thread balls through the Nigerian defense, with
Veron and Sorin attempting to find Ortega and Ortega looking for a way to shoot.
Batistuta's 37th minute header, at the far post - from Veron's high,
inswinging corner - was a poor one but it should have served as a warning to the
Half-time: Argentina 0 - Nigeria 0
Argentina started the second half with Killy Gonzalez on for Claudio
Lopez and the Valencia striker soon made his presence felt.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart Batistuta, at the far post
for another corner, should have put Argentina in front but only managed to stab the ball
Time for Nigeria to bring on Pius Ikedia for Kanu.
After an hour, Veron tried something different with Argentina's
seventh corner (to Nigeria's two)..... but it was headed wide by Mauricio Pochettino.
A minute later, Sorin took a high ball from Ortega on his chest,
turned and shot..... only to see his effort tipped over the bar by Shorunmu.
Argentina continued to apply the pressure; Veron's free-kick on the
edge of the area, going out for a corner.
From the corner, Gabriel Batistuta finally headed in at the far post, with 63 minutes on
Argentina looked fired up after the goal and Batistuta, with renewed
confidence, should have scored his second.
Nigeria gave away too many free-kicks around the area, which should be
comforting for David Beckham, but Argentina couldn't
With less than 20 minutes left in the game, Pius Ikedia screamed down
the right touchline, playing a quick one-two, and crossed into the area.
Unfortunately, Nigeria's finishing needed to improve to make use of
the few openings they did create.
Veron and Batistuta were replaced by Pablo Aimar and Hernan Crespo -
the goalscorer later having a bandage applied to his calf.
After having a goal disallowed for offside, Nigeria were in all sorts
of confusion in their own area and were lucky to escape conceding a second goal, three
minutes from time.
In time added on, Ike Shorunmu made two fine saves from Killy
González, to keep the scoreline respectable.
Argentina 1 -
Man of the Match:
Juan Sebastian Veron - His corner created the history-making goal for Batistuta and he
proved to be the engine behind most of Argentina's attacking momentum.
Walter Samuel (51 mins)
Efe Sodje (74 mins)
Diego Simeone (90 mins)
12 Pablo Cavallero; 4 Mauricio Pochettino, 2 Roberto Ayala, 6 Walter Samuel, 8 Javier
Zanetti; 14 Diego Simeone, 11 Juan Sebastian Veron (16 Pablo Aimar - 78 mins), 3 Juan
Pablo Sorin; 10 Ariel Ortega, 9 Gabriel Batistuta (19 Hernan Crespo - 81 mins), 7 Claudio
Lopez (18 - Killy González - 46 mins).
1 Ike Shorunmu; 3 Celestine Babayaro, 6 Taribo West, 5 Isaac Okoronkwo, 16 Efe Sodje (15
Justice Christopher - 73 mins), 2 Joseph Yobo; 4 Nwankwo Kanu (7 Pius Ikedia - 48 mins),
10 Jay Jay Okocha; 9 Bartholomew Ogbeche, 10 Julius Aghahowa, 11 Garba Lawal.
Referee: Gilles Veissiere
Denmark, France, Senegal, Uruguay.
Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain,
Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Turkey.
South Korea, United States.
Korea First Round Matches.
Cameroon, Germany, Republic of Ireland,
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2002 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.
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