NIGERIA’S Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw with Brazil this afternoon in an international friendly game which took place at the Singapore National Stadium succumbing to a second half equaliser after taking the lead early in the match.
In what is now the team’s second successive draw after playing 2-2 away to Ukraine last month, the Eagles put in a credible performance against the most successful team in world football ever to share the spoils. For two games in succession, Glasgow Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo has found the back of the net after scoring on his debut against Ukraine last month.
Aribo opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Nigeria took the lead against the run of play, hitting the Brazilians on the counter attack. In what is now becoming the Eagles’ trademark way of play, they sat back, soaked up Brazilian pressure and used the pace of their strikers to hit them on the counter-attack.
After good work down the left Simon Moses crossed the ball and Aribo latched onto it, dancing into the Brazilian penalty area evading three tackles before slotting the ball home. Before going a goal down, however, the Brazilians lost their talisman Neymar, with him limping off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Despite the loss and going a goal down, the Brazilians pushed forward repeatedly, with Coutinho, Neymar’s replacement, pulling the strings upfront. Despite the pressure, the Eagles held firm, going into the break a goal up.
At the restart, the Brazilians picked up from where they left in the first half applying early pressure and this paid off in the 48th minute when they got an equaliser. Just three minutes into the second half, Casemiro fired home from close range after he was quickest to react when a Marquinhos header came back off the woodwork.
Casemiro later smacked a header off the bar and Coutinho could have scored after latching on to a cut back with five minutes remaining. Nigeria’s only sire point on the day was an injury to goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who had to be stretchered off in the second half with what looked like a bad knee injury.
Coming for a corner, Uzoho landed awkwardly and appeared to have twisted his knee. He was promptly replaced by the German-born teenager Maduka Okoye, who was making his international debut.
With this draw, Brazil have failed to win their last four matches now as since lifting the Copa America in July, Selecao have also drawn with Colombia and Senegal and lost to Peru. Brazil can, however, take heart from a good performance that saw flashes of brilliance from the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Dani Alves.