USA beats Nigeria 2-1 in World Cup tune-up
JACKSONVILLE, USA – Jozy Altidore broke his goalscoring drought as the United States beat Nigeria 2-1 on Saturday in the Americans' final World Cup warm-up on US soil before heading to Brazil.
Sunderland's much-maligned striker – without a goal in 2014 – netted in the 32nd and 68th minutes as Jurgen Klinsmann's men made it a hat-trick of wins after victories over Azerbaijan and Turkey in their "Send-Off Series."
"It took us awhile to get into the game," Altidore said. "But after 25 minutes we started playing better.
"Look, we can always do better, but I thought we created enough chances tonight."
It was a fitting final dress rehearsal for the American squad and a confidence-boosting game for Altidore, who seemed to have rediscovered his scoring touch at EverBank Field.
Except for a stumble late in the first half when they squandered two scoring chances, the USA put together a complete performance against Nigeria, who are ranked 45th overall.
"The most important thing is how this team performs," Altidore said. "Going into a tournament like this we want to make sure we are performing at a level where we give ourselves a good chance. I think we are going to do that."
Altidore said he never lost confidence throughout the scoring slump.
"To be honest. I felt fine before and I feel fine now," he said.
Altidore opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, finishing from close range after a deft pass from Fabian Johnson.
He then blasted a right-footed shot into the bottom left corner for his second goal in the 68th minute.
"The first goal was a beautiful give and go with Fabian and the second goal was just having a shot on goal."
Victor Moses scored the only goal for Nigeria with a penalty 4 minutes from time to make it 2-1.
Nigeria also had two quality scoring opportunities late in the first half but couldn't connect.
Ogenyi Onazi's long shot from outside the box to the top right corner was saved by American goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 41st minute.
Three minutes later, Efe Ambrose's header from in close almost connected for Nigeria who controlled the play in the final five minutes of the opening half.
American Clint Dempsey had a chance to give the USA a three goal cushion in the 65th minute when he took a through ball from Michael Bradley and broke in with Altidore on his left. Dempsey chose to shoot for the bottom corner but was stopped.
This is just the second meeting all-time between the two countries, the first being a 3-2 USA win in June 1995, in Massachusetts.
Nigeria is the only World Cup-bound team the USA faced in their Send-Off friendly series before heading to Brazil.
The US opens their World Cup with a Group G match against Ghana on June 16 in Natal. – Rappler.com