It took Levin Oztunali’s first half only goal for Germany to get to the last eight of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand at the expense of Nigeria.
Ultimately, Frank Wormuth’s side were deserved winners against the Group E runners-up and while the Africans could not be faulted for effort, their inability to create meaningful chances proved to be their undoing.
Fifa.com reports that prior to the game, it was expected that Germany would attempt to build their attacks by retaining the ball; with Nigeria’s Flying Eagles utilising the counter-attack and that manifested itself during the opening 45 minutes. Yet for all of the Europeans’ possession, the first real chance of the game came from a set piece. Marc Stendera’s corner from the right was aimed for Stark, but Onyinye Ndidi’s attempted clearance spun narrowly wide off the near post. The Flying Eagles were looking for an opportunity to break and found one shortly after the quarter-hour when Taiwo Awoniyi broke down the right and delivered a low cross into the box which Saviour Godwin almost reached.
On 19 minutes, Germany took the lead. Stendera’s pressure on Kingsley Sokari led to him stealing the ball just outside the West Africans’ box. He found Levin Oztunali at the edge of the area and the grandson of the legendary Uwe Seeler fired home a powerful left-footed shot.
Germany could have – and probably should have – doubled their advantage later in the half, when a cross from their captain, Nigerian-born German Kevin Akpoguma found Hany Mukhtar lurking on the penalty spot. But the ball came off his shoulder and Joshua Enaholo was able to save comfortably.
The Group F winners finished the half strongly as Stendera forced Enaholo into two fine saves from close range.
Stendera was at the heart of things for Germany yet again when the second half commenced. He brought the ball from deep, found Julian Brandt who played the ball to Mukhtar. The Benfica forward elected to shoot rather than play the back to Stendera and he fired tamely wide.
Mukhtar had another good chance on the hour after some great skill from Oztunali down the right, but he wasn’t able to get any real power behind his shot and Enaholo was out to save smartly.
Germany withdrew goal scorer Stendera and Julian Brant midway through the second half and the changes seemed to have more of a positive effect on the Nigerians.
Frank Wormuth’s side soon found themselves camped in their own half, with Success Isaac leading the charge forward, although Marvin Schwabe was not really forced into a save, the Flying Eagles not helped by some poor delivery from set pieces.
Ultimately, the Germans hung on to book a quarter-final clash with Mali and remain in Christchurch, while the Flying Eagles head home.