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Posted Wednesday, August 13, 2008

 


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Olympics: Nigeria eliminates U.S. 2-1, advance to quarterfinals


romise Isaac and Victor Obinna scored to lead Nigeria over a 10-man United States team 2-1 Wednesday, earning a place in the quarterfinals of the Olympic football tournament and eliminating the Americans.


Promise Isaac (10) celebrates with his teammates Kaita Sani, left, Ebenezer Ajilore and Solomon Okoronkwo after scoring against the United States.
(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

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Isaac scored in the 39th minute with an easy tap-in off Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi's centering pass and Obinna curled a right-footed shot into the top of goal in the 80th.

Sacha Kljestan converted an 88th-minute penalty for the Americans and Benny Feilhaber headed onto the post in the 90th as the United States was eliminated from Group B after the Netherlands beat Japan 1-0.

The Americans played a man short from the third minute when defender Michael Orozco was ejected.

"We have a good team when it's not playing like this," Nigeria coach Samson Siasia said after his players failed to capitalize on the extra advantage. "You go out there and play with showboating ... if we don't take care of these things, we're going to have a lot of problems."

The nervy finish saw the Americans come close, thanks to substitute Charlie Davies. Nigeria also missed a host of opportunities to seal it as the U.S. pressed for the equalizer.

The Americans even won over the local fans for the closing moments.

"The last five minutes with the 50-60,000 chanting U-S-A, it was quite a feeling about what it means to be in these tournaments," said U.S. coach Peter Nowak. "We were very close, even when we play with 10 men. We never give up."

The late U.S. surge came after Nigeria goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin was booked for a studs-up challenge on Maurice Edu that Kljestan would convert with a low shot into the right corner.

Nigeria held the man advantage from the third minute when German referee Wolfgang Stark red-carded Orozco for swinging his elbow into Solomon Okoronkwo's chest with the players wrestling for the ball.

"I can't say if it's justified or not," Nowak said. "There was a big scene from the Nigerian player, but I don't know. We didn't expect this kind of reaction. ... It's kind of unacceptable." Under pressure, Edu's poor clearance gave the Nigerians a corner in the 18th and the game's first real opportunity but U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan covered Ogbuke Obasi's header.

Nigeria, the 1996 Olympic champion, buoyed the trumpets and drums of the tiny section of Nigeria fans and the majority of the 48,096 fans at the Workers' Stadium with attacking football generated from their quick and skillful flankers.

Guzan stretched to deny Ogbuke Obasi in the 32nd after the Nigeria forward had twisted Michael Parkhurst inside-out with a weaving run.

In the 35th, Marvell Wynne got free down the right side, but he hesitated, allowing Nigeria to keep his cross from reaching Brian McBride, with midfielder Danny Szetela free at the top of the area.

Ogbuke Obasi beat Parkhurst again with a quick sweeping move to go free along the goal line and find Isaac for the goal.

Szetela cleared the ball away from the goal to end the first half as the U.S. struggled without leading striker Freddy Adu, who missed the match to suspension.

Nowak brought on midfielder Feilhaber for striker Jozy Altidore to start the second half and the U.S. improved with McBride heading straight into Vanzekin's hands in the 49th.

Kljestan headed Stuart Holden's long ball over goal in the 55th and Szetela's weak chip over Vanzekin was easily cleared moments later.

Feilhaber redirected Obinna's powerful shot onto his own goal in the 66th but Guzan's left-handed reaction stopped it.

Obinna was sent into the left-edge of the area onside before his quick move left Parkhurst on the ground and the Chievo forward with the time and space to pick his spot for the winner.

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First half - 1. Nigeria, P. Isaac, 39th.

Second half - 2. Nigeria, V. Obinna, 79th. 3. United States, S. Kljestan, 88th, (PK).

Yellow Cards - B. Feilhaber, United States, 60th; A. Vanzekin, Nigeria, 87th.

Red Cards - M. Orozco, United States, 3rd.

Referees - Wolfgang Stark, Germany; Khalil Al Ghamdi, Saudi Arabia; Volker Wezel, Germany; Jan-Hendrik Salver, Germany

© 2008 AP

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