Striker Sebastian Soto struck twice for the USA in rainy Bielsko-Bialo Monday night, powering the Stars and Stripes to their first victory at Poland 2019 while handing Nigeria their first defeat.
USA coach Tab Ramos made just one change to the starting XI from his side’s opener against Ukraine, and it paid doubly. First, Soto slipped his marker and nodded home Alex Mendez’s corner-kick service at the far post in the 18th minute, giving the USA a 1-0 lead.
Less than one minute into the second half Soto snuck past the Nigeria defence yet again, doubling his team’s advantage. Chris Gloster played him through beautifully after a marauding run inside from the left-back. Soto then got his feet and hips right, waited for the goalkeeper to collapse and popped the ball into the net with the inside of his right foot.
Paul Aigbogun’s side were not without their chances, leaving the USA scrambling from a flurry of brilliant individual efforts toward the end of the first half. First, substitute Aniekeme Okon’s ferocious full volley at the top of the area was saved by Brady Scott. That was followed by forward Maxell Effiom’s stinger from outside the right corner of the box which clipped the crossbar a minute later.
Nigeria thought they had a lifeline when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after a foul by Keita on Michael but the 19 year old Midfielder was in an offside position leading up to the foul. A VAR review choking off the penalty.
In the end the stars and stripes held on to greatly lift their chances of advancing from Group D.
Nigeria meet Ukraine on Thursday night at 20:30 CAT (21:30 EAT) while USA tackle Qatar at 20:30 CAT (21:30 EAT) in the final group games to decide who will advance to the next round.