After a brave performance where they dominated possession in the first half, the Super Eagles succumbed to French pressure and fell to two late second-half goals. The first goal came from a Valbuena corner, where Vincent Enyeama unsuccessfully parried the ball away, only for it to fall to Pogba who easily headed in. The second came from a Joseph Yobo own goal, who redirected a low cross from Valbuena into his own net.
Even in defeat, however, Stephen Keshi’s men performed admirably, and looked the more likely to score in the first half. The difference came at the hour mark, when French coach Didier Deschamps substituted Olivier Giroud for winger Antoine Griezmann. This allowed Karim Benzema to move inside to his favored central striker role. From there, the French attack was far more balanced and incisive. The two goals seemed inevitable.
Vincent Enyeama – 7
For so much of the match, Enyeama was Nigeria’s star performer. In the 22nd minute, he saved Pogba’s volley incredibly well, before saving two of Benzema’s efforts on goal in the second half. Unfortunately, he was at fault for France’s opening goal.
Efe Ambrose – 6
Nigeria’s right back did well to get forward for most of the game and linked up well on the wing. Ambrose delivered a particularly good cross for Odemwingie in the 6th minute.
Joseph Yobo – 5
Decent in the first half, Yobo struggled to handle Benzema once the striker changed positions. Prior to the first goal, he was beaten by Benzema in the air, who forced a corner that led to the Pogba’s opener. And in the 92nd minute, the Nigerian captain scored an own goal, after being beaten to a low cross by Griezmann, who deflected the ball off of Yobo and into the net.
Kenneth Omeruo – 7
The 22-year-old defender had a strong showing today and hardly put a foot wrong. His string of positive performances throughout this World Cup is a positive that the Super Eagles can take away from this tournament.
Juwon Oshaniwa – 5
Oshaniwa had an unassuming game and didn’t get forward much throughout the match. Too often though, he was beaten by Valbuena down Nigeria’s lefthand side. For the second goal, he needed to do better to close down Valbuena, who delivered the cross that led to Yobo’s own goal.
John Obi Mikel – 6
An average performance by Mikel, but arguably his best of what has been a difficult tournament. He did see lots of possession early and dictated play, but lost the ball too frequently in midfield. The Chelsea man has had a disappointing World Cup to add onto an already disappointing club season.
Ogenyi Onazi – 6
Nigeria’s tough-tackling midfielder was on the receiving end of the strong challenges today. In the 13th minute, he was stretchered off due to a knee injury before coming back on. But a horrendous challenge from Blaise Matuidi in the 54th minute saw his ankle turned. Stretchered off again, Onazi was substituted for Reuben Gabriel.
Victor Moses – 6
Like Mikel, Moses had probably his best match of the tournament today. But in the end, he didn’t create all that much. He had a very good opportunity in the 52nd minute, but failed to control the ball in the box. He did, however, clear Benzema’s shot off the line in the 69th minute, preventing a goal.
Ahmed Musa – 5
Musa failed to have the same impact he had against Argentina, and had the fewest touches of any Nigerian outfield player. Apart from occasional runs down the right, he didn’t challenge Patrice Evra all that much.
Peter Odemwingie – 6
Nigeria’s goalscorer against Bosnia looked dangerous sporadically throughout today’s match. His two best efforts came from a free kick delivery in the 14th minute and a left footed shot that was saved by Lloris in the 64th.
Emmanuel Emenike – 6
Emenike looked like Nigeria’s most likely to score in the first half. He had an offside goal correctly disallowed in the 19th minute, and won free kicks for his team throughout the half. But come the second period, Emenike disappeared, making very little impact.
Reuben Gabriel – 5
Gabriel came on for the injured Onazi and didn’t make much during his time on the pitch. Perhaps it was not a coincidence that Nigeria looked much more vulnerable after Onazi’s departure from their midfield.
Uche Nwofor – No Rating
Nwofor came on for Moses in the 89th minute, but by that time, the Super Eagles already looked defeated.
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