Oghenekaro Etebo hit four goals past the Asian champions as the Dream Team VI put behind all the crisis that has plagued them in the past days to defeat Japan 5-4 early Friday morning at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus.
As early as the 3rd minute, the Japanese were close to breaking the deadlock with Oshima latching on to a cross from his teammate but goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel was on hand to pull a safe and force a corner kick.
Despite the long travels it was Nigeria that registered the first goal of the game as AS Roma youngster, Sadiq Umar got the curtain raiser in the 6thminute off a rebound.
Imoh Ezekiel did most of the job taking on three defenders before he fired a shot and while the Japanese keeper did his best to stop that effort, he had no answers to the gangling Umar who needed just a simple finish to put Nigeria in front.
Nigeria’s lead lasted for barely 100 seconds as Stanley Amuzie handed Japan an easy route back into the game when he committed a needless penalty and veteran Shinzo Koroki was on hand to calmly take the resultant kick; sending goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel the wrong way.
Dramatically, just a minute after, Nigeria were back in front and it was Etebo with the goal having controlled masterfully off a cross from Shehu Abdullahi before slotting the ball in to the net.
The lead for Nigeria was short-lived yet again as slack defending saw Japan pull level this time through Takumi Minamino in the 13th minute.
After that, the goals’ rush was paused as both teams settled into the game and became more cautious.
That nonetheless, it was Nigeria that had the last laugh in the first half with Roma’s Umar combining well with Etebo and the former Warri Wolves striker made the most of the comical defending from the Japanese who failed to clear their line and gave him a second chance to make sure he tucked the ball into the net.
Back for second half, Nigeria started brightly and five minutes after resumption from the break, the Dream Team VI doubled their lead and it was workaholic, Umar who got Nigeria a penalty and Etebo was on hand to slot in and complete his hat trick.
Etebo capped up a wonderful performance for Nigeria scoring the 5th goal from over 25 yards in the 66th minute after Japanese keeper was forced to rush out for a clearance off a cross from Captain John Obi Mikel
The game was far from over as Japan reduced the deficit through Takuma Asano in the 70th minute and were pretty close adding another goal moment after but were ruled offside as Asano’s effort that hit the bar counted for less.
The Asian champions pressed on the tired Nigeria defence and while the got yet another goal they were unable to deny Nigeria victory as the Dream Team go top in Group B after the first round of games.