USA 2-1 Nigeria: Altidore strikes twice to hand Klinsmann’s side a timely boost

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Jozy Altidore gave USA and
himself a much-needed
boost of confidence after
scoring both goals in his
side’s 2-1 win over Nigeria
on Saturday.
The Sunderland striker struck in either half as Jurgen
Klinsmann’s side secured a comfortable victory in
their final World Cup warm-up, with a late penalty
from Victor Moses not enough for Stephen Keshi’s
Super Eagles to earn a share of the spoils.
While many would have benched Altidore ahead of
USMNT’s final 90 minutes ahead of their World Cup
opener against Ghana on Monday week, coach
Klinsmann maintained his belief in the Sunderland
striker.
His faith was repaid, not once, but twice, as Altidore
gave USA the perfect send off for their Brazilian
campaign and laid to rest some of the concerns over
the omission of Landon Donovan from the 23-man
squad.
The only blemish on USA’s display – completing an
unbeaten three-game warm-up series after previous
wins over Azerbaijan and Turkey – was conceding a
late penalty, converted by Moses, which denied
Everton’s Tim Howard a clean sheet while making
his 100th international appearance.
While Klinsmann enjoyed the luxury of a fully fit
squad for this match, his Nigerian counterpart Keshi
was using this match to reshape his line-up after
injuries had accounted for Monaco defender Elderson
Echiejile – who misses the World Cup with a
hamstring tea – and CSKA Moscow winger Ahmed
Musa, another injury victim from the Greece friendly.
Kenneth Omeruo, meanwhile, had been unable to
practice with the squad since suffering a heavy
knock in a training ground incident on Thursday.
Perhaps it was the potential threat of injury that
meant neither side appeared fully committed in the
early exchanges, meaning opportunities were few
and far between.
If Keshi had been hoping for a quiet day, then his
heart must have skipped a beat when Celtic defender
Efe Ambrose – operating at right-back – was
clattered by USA midfielder Jermaine Jones.
Ambrose lay motionless for a moment, but resumed
after being treated for a knock to his hip, much to
the relief of the Super Eagles bench.
USA gradually played themselves into the game and
with their first real passing move broke the deadlock
on 32 minutes. After Jones had found Bedoya, the
Nantes winger slipped in the advanced Fabian
Johnson, and the Hoffenheim right back squared
across goal for Altidore to apply the finishing touch.
With just one goal to his name all season in England,
Altidore maintained his more impressive record at
international level, this being his 22nd goal for his
country.
Nigeria pressed for an equaliser as the half drew to
a close, Jones doing well to clear after Beckerman
had given the ball away in the centre while Howard
had to deal with an Ambrose header from a corner.
The second half had a bit more pace to it than the
first period, helped by the injection of fresh legs by
both sides.
Clint Dempsey probably should have done better
after a good run and shot in the 64th minute, but
Vincent Enyeama deserves credit for a good stop.
However, the Lille goalkeeper was helpless as
Altidore again repaid Klinsmann’s confidence in him
with a superb finish in 68 minutes.
Michael Bradley’s chip forward found Altidore
breaking on the left, the striker controlling the ball
before stepping inside Yobo on to his right foot and
drilling his shot in at Enyeama’s near post.
Altidore was withdrawn near the end, more likely to
savour the acclaim from the Jacksonville crowd
rather than through fatigue, but the game was far
from over.
Five minutes from time, Sporting Kansas defender
Matt Besler felled Moses , who picked himself up and
rolled the spot-kick past Howard.
It proved a mere consolation goal for the Super
Eagles, however, who look as if they still have
various problems to overcome – especially around
their sluggish defence – if they are to take anything
from their must-win game against Iran in eight days’
time.

-goal

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