Oghenekaro Etebo was the star of the night scoring four goals as Nigeria defeated Japan 5-4 in a thrilling, back-and-forth encounter in the second match of Group B at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016.
The second match in Group B didn’t take long to spring into life. Hiroki Fujiharu crossed to the far post for Ryota Ohshima who connected well with a volley, but his shot was saved by Emmanuel Daniel, and Nigeria just managed to scramble the ball away for a corner.
Two minutes later, Nigeria forward Sadiq Umar opened the scoring after Imoh Ezekiel had his shot saved following some superb dribbling on the right wing. Umar was right there to tap in the second chance after Japan goalkeeper Masatoshi Kushibiki spilled it right in front of him.
Japan responded with a goal of their own three minutes later when a penalty kick was given after Stanley Amuzie fouled Shoya Nakajima in the penalty area. Shinzo Koroki stepped up and converted a very calm and composed penalty, sending Daniel the wrong way.
Oghenekaro Etebo then put Nigeria back in the lead a minute later, controlling a very high cross with his chest before unleashing a half volley into Kushibiki’s goal to restore Nigeria’s lead.
Seconds later and on Japan’s next passage of play, Red Bull Salzburg’s Takumi Minamino found himself one on one with Daniel. He calmly slotted his shot past the goalkeeper to make it 2-2, thrilling the Manaus crowd.
The match settled down for the majority of the half until Etebo had another say before the break. He scored his second goal of the match and gave Nigeria the lead for the third time when Umar found him ghosting in the penalty area. Etebo’s initial shot was saved but he scored with his second chance.
Etebo picked up from where he left off and he completed his hat-trick five minutes after the restart, scoring from the penalty spot after Umar was fouled in the area.
The Feirense man then scored his fourth goal of the night, picking up a poor clearance from Kushibiki and scoring from 20 yards into an empty net. That goal looked to have taken the life out of Japan, but they didn’t give up.
Four minutes after Etebo’s fourth, substitute and new Arsenal signing Takuma Asano finished off a great attacking play for Japan with his backheel, pulling his team back to a two-goal deficit.
Japan never gave up and in the fifth minute of injury time substitute Musashi Suzuki curled in his shot from the top of the area after cutting in on his left foot.
In the end Nigeria did enough to hold on defensively and secure all three points as they now look ahead to their second match of the tournament against Sweden on Sunday. Japan meet Colombia that same day.