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Nigeria 0-2 Serbia: Mitrovic’s brace downs Eagles

Chijioke Ezeali

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a brace as Serbia defeated the Super Eagles 2-0 inside the Hive Stadium in England yesterday.
Only on Friday last week, the three-time African Champions proved that stats are just like miniskirts because they never reveal it all when they beat sixth ranked Poland 1-0 in front of their bedeviled home crowd.
The 52nd ranked team in the world was without mercurial captain, Mikel Obi for the second game running as he was still sorting out his work permit issues, hopefully he will get it done soon.
However, Mikel wasn’t the only absentee for the Super Eagles as one part of the formidable ‘Oyinbo Wall’ Leon Balogun was missing against Serbia due to illness and joining him on the sidelines was Oghenekaro Etebo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Shehu Abdullahi.
That presented an opportunity for Coach, Gernot Rohr to field Chidozie Awazim alongside William Wrost-Ekong at center back while Ogenyi Onazi and Ahmed Musa were handed their chance to shine in the first XI with Odion Ighalo dropped to the bench following a lackluster performance against Poland.
The Serbians had Manchester United star, Nemanja Matic boss the midfield while Branislva Ivanovic and Kolarov marshalled the defence leaving Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic to cause trouble upfront.
All eyes were on young Eagles goalkeeper Francis Uzoho after he kept a clean sheet against Poland. The 19-year-old was called upon every early in the first half as he palmed away a shot from Mitrovic.
At the other end, Victor Moses right foot shot was parried for a corner and Onazi sent one flying from 20yards but it went over the bar.
The Serbians nearly took the lead when Mitrovic was played through on goal but Bryan Idowu made a fantastic last minute block to deny him an opportunity to score.
The Serbians thought they had scored when the troublesome Mitrovic out-muscled Awaziem to head past Uzoho but the young keeper reacted quickly to retrieve the ball which looked like it had crossed the line but the referee waved play on.
Moments later Uzoho showed inexperience when he mistimed a cross but the Eagles escaped as the Serbians failed to capitalize. The last action of the first half saw Musa brought down by Ivanovic but nothing came off the freekick.
Odion Ighalo replaced Victor Moses at the start of the second half and the China based attacker immediately made his impact felt.
The former Watford striker came close to scoring for the Eagles but saw his shot pushed out for a corner. Serbian eventually went in front as dangerman, Mitrovic sent a left foot shot past Uzoho after Ebuehi failed to clear.
Ighalo tried to get the Eagles back in the game but his shot was blocked inside the penalty area. Simon Moses replaced Onazi as the Eagles chased the game.
But it went from bad to worse as Aleksandar Mitrovic completed his brace with a simple finished past Uzoho to make it 2-0.
The frustration got to some of the Eagles players as substitute John Ogu got involved in a heated argument with Tadic after the Serbian claimed he elbowed him, other players joined in but calm soon returned with the referee showing yellow cards to Ogu and Mitrovic who was too handy during the melee.
Junior Ajayi came on for his Super Eagles debut but couldn’t make any meaningful impact within the three minutes he was on the pitch as Serbia ran out 2-0 winners.
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