Wednesday June 12th, 2002
Nigeria vs England in Osaka (0:0)
Nigeria had already packed their bags but England couldn't afford
to be complacent.
England started the game cautiously until they sensed that Nigeria
were looking dangerous, then David Beckham's long passes signaled a change of approach and
the 10,000 English fans upped the volume to match it.
On England's second corner, Vincent Enyeama fumbled the ball and felt
a sense of relief when he wasn't punished. The Nigerian goalkeeper made up for his mistake
and gained a little confidence when he beat Michael Owen to England's next through ball.
Nigeria's first corner came after quarter of an hour and David Beckham
was at the front post to head the ball away.
Emile Heskey's first shot, low to the goalkeeper's left signaled
another England period of pressure. Enyeama was down well to save but still looked
uncomfortable going up for corners so England tried to win some more.
Half an hour gone and Nigeria really tested England's alertness. David
Seaman failed to hold Jay-Jay Okocha's curling free-kick and Julius Agahowa was quick to
the rebound. Luckily for England, Seaman stayed cool, closed the angle and the shot went
Nigeria had everybody back working overtime as England attacked a
little more just before the end of the half.
Nicky Butt had a couple of attempts blocked, Michael Owen should have
earned a corner and everybody in England must have choked on their cornflakes or spurted
coffee on the cat.... when Vincent Enyeama slapped a Paul Scholes shot against the post.
Half-time: Nigeria 0 - England 0
England were playing with fire by taking things so easy in the Osaka
heat, unless the plan was to tire Nigeria and hit them on the ropes. At least no-one was
getting booked for being too physical.
Without the pressure to concentrate his mind, David Beckham's
free-kicks continued to fly high of the target.
Both Group F games were still without a goal, with just over half an
hour to go, leaving the any two from three permutation far from being resolved..... unless
the scores remained the same.
Then a goal in the Sweden vs Argentina game meant that England would
finish runners-up and face Denmark in the Second Round.
Even when Teddy Sheringham came on for Emile Heskey, with twenty minutes to go, England
still didn't show any urgency and David Seaman had to be alert to Nigeria's threat at any
Michael Owen soon made way for Darius Vassell. Maybe the Aston Villa striker could snatch
the goal to bring a win for the nation.
Argentina equalised against Sweden with two minutes to go but
England's point meant that Svengali's boys had done enough to enter the knockout stage.
Not the most exciting of matches in the tournament but, for England,
it's the end result that counts.
Nigeria 0 -
Other Group F Match:
Sweden vs Argentina
Man of the Match:
Brian Hall - The American referee didn't produce a single yellow card, which says a lot
after the ridiculous refereeing in two of yesterday's matches.
22 Vincent Enyeama; 15 Justice Christopher, 5 Isaac Okoronkwo, 16 Efe Sodje, 14 Ifeanyi
Udeze, 2 Joseph Yobo; 18 Benedict Akwuegbu, 20 James Obiorah, 10 Jay-Jay Okocha, 23 Femi
Opabumni (7 Pius Ikedia - 86 mins); 17 Julius Agahowa.
1 David Seaman; 6 Sol Campbell, 3 Ashley Cole (14 Wayne Bridge - 85 mins), 5 Rio
Ferdinand, 2 Danny Mills; 7 David Beckham, 21 Nicky Butt, 8 Paul Scholes, 4 Trevor
Sinclair; 11 Emile Heskey (17 Teddy Sheringham - 69 mins), 10 Michael Owen (20 Darius
Vassell - 77 mins).
Referee: Brian Hall
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,
Argentina, England, Nigeria, Sweden.
Croatia, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico.
Belgium, Japan, Russia, Tunisia.
Japan First Round Matches.
2002 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.
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