Warri Wolves striker Oghenekaro Etebo score four goals to help Nigeria beat Japan 5-4 in their first game at the Rio 2016 Olympics men’s football event.
Etebo scored two goals in each half, after Umar Sadiq had opened scoring for a Nigerian team that arrived the venue of the game just six hours to kick off following shady flight arrangements.
The result means Nigeria, who launched a new Nike jersey, tops Group B after Colombia and Sweden had played a 2-2 draw.
Japan was close to taking the lead in the 3rd minute but goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel prevented a havoc and two minutes later, Nigeria went ahead when Umar Sadiq finished off a re-bounce from Japan goalkeeper Masatoshi Kushibiki.
Two minutes later Ryota Oshima was brought down in Nigeria’s box and Shinzo Koroki stepped up to convert the resultant penalty to draw level.
But before the first ten minutes was over, Nigeria went ahead again, as Oghenekaro Etebo took advantage of a defensive error to fire inside the Asian net for a second goal, but Nigeria will have no much time to celebrate as Japan again equalized through Takumi Minamino who had a one-on-one with Daniel, in the next minute.
The Dream Team went in front for the third time as Etebo’s effort saw him score his second goal and Nigeria’s third on the night in the 41st minute to take the lead into half time.
After the break, Nigeria held on to ball possession and it paid off when Sodiq was brought down in Japan’s danger area. Etebo took the penalty in the 50th minute and made no mistake to complete a hat trick and extend Nigeria’s lead.
John Obi Mikel made a one-two pass with Usman Muhammed on the hour mark, but the Chelsea midfielder looped the ball just over the bar as Nigeria continued their dominance.
Etebo is not done scoring yet, and he made it four for himself and five for Nigeria when he scored off Kushibiki re-bounce in the 65th minute, but Takuma Asano who came in barely 20 minutes ago, pulled one back for Japan in the 70th minute.
Nigeria made a first change, and it was Muhammed who gave way for Kingsley Madu in the 73rd minute, after Musashi Suzuki came off the bench to replace Shinzo Koroki.
Japan made a third change, introducing Shinya Yajima to replace Shoya Nakajima as they hope to change their fortune.
With the game approaching its final 10 minutes, Nigeria also made another change, when Ndifreke Effiong comes off the bench to replace Imoh Ezekiel, and with three minutes remaining, Mikel was taken off for Popoola Saliu.
Japan’s changes improved their performance and paid off, and Suzuki reduced the deficit by one goal just in time before the referee sounded the final whistle.
The Dream Team now top Group B after Colombia and Sweden played a 2-2 draw.