Ahmed Musa scored two superb goals as Nigeria jump-started their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Iceland in Group D on Saturday.
The Leicester City striker, comfortable playing in Russia after returning to CSKA Moscow on loan last season, found the net twice in the second half to push Nigeria into second place above their opponents and group favourites Argentina, whom they will play in the final group match with a spot in the knockout stage on the line.
Chances proved few and far between in an uninspiring first half in hot conditions.
Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a free kick towards the top corner in the opening minute but it was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who moments later saved another shot from distance from the Everton man.
Those were the most clear-cut chances until just before the break, when Alfred Finnbogason nearly redirected a free kick on target.
Nigeria failed to put a shot on target in the first half but came out well after the break and took the lead within four minutes.
On a counter-attack, Victor Moses delivered a cross into Ahmed Musa, who did well to bring the ball down with a high boot before striking it on the half-volley into the roof of the net.
Iceland struggled to recover, with the closest they came to an equaliser arrving on 68 minutes when Rurik Gislason fired well over the bar.
And their task soon got tougher when Musa — moments after rattling the crossbar with a shot from 20 yards, ran past right-back Kari Arnason on the flank, then rounded goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson to score his second.
Iceland were handed a lifeline when Tyronne Ebuehi was late on a challenge on Finnbogason, and the referee gave a penalty — though only after reviewing the play on video.
But Sigurdsson sent his shot high over the bar and into the stands after a short run-up and Nigeria held on to take the three points.
The result helps the chances for Lionel Messi’s Argentina to advance, as they can move from bottom of the table into second with a win over Nigeria, so long as Iceland do not beat Croatia by an equal or larger margin.