The Flying Eagles defeated the Dominican Republic 2-1 in their opening Group D match at the U-20 World Cup at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza thanks to goals from Samson Lawal and an own goal by Guillermo De Peno.
Nigeria, who have been to the U-20 World Cup semifinals twice, is aiming to win their first championship, but Ladan Bosso’s team found it difficult to defeat the Caribbeans in their opening match.
The U-20 World Cup debutants in Argentina scored the opening goal despite the Flying Eagles’ domination when Edison Azcona converted from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute to give the CONCACAF representatives their first ever goal at the competition.
After throwing goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso in the opposite direction, the 19-year-old slotted into the left corner.
Bosso’s boys rallied strongly to the early setback and were back on equal terms eight minutes later.
Solomon Abalaka’s long throw forced De Peno, who was under pressure, to head into his own net.
The Flying Eagles continued to create opportunities but were unable to capitalize, as the first half finished 1-1.
The Nigerians, however, took the lead in the 71st minute, after Lawal pounced on a poor Israel Boatwright back-pass to slot beyond Xavier Valdez, in goal for the Caribbeans.
The result means Nigeria have now scored in five opening-day fixtures in a row at the U-20 World Cup since a 1-0 defeat to Venezuela at Egypt 2009.
The Dominican Republic could not stage their own comeback, allowing Nigeria to coast to victory and secure three crucial points that placed them atop Group D.
Nigeria and the Dominican Republic will return to action on Wednesday against Italy and Brazil respectively.
In the other match played on Sunday, Gustavo Puerta’s last-gasp strike earned Colombia a 2-1 comeback win over Israel in an entertaining Group C opener.
Israel took the lead shortly into the second, Dor Turgeman sending Luis Marquinez the wrong way from the penalty spot. Oscar Cortes did exactly the same at the other end to level the score.