Bosnia-Herzegovina was eliminated from the World Cup on Saturday after suffering a 1-0 loss to Nigeria at the Arena Pantanal.
The defeat did not come without controversy as Bosnia saw a legitimate goal pulled back halfway through the opening period due to an incorrect offside decision.
It proved to be a pivotal moment in the match as Peter Odemwingie gave Nigeria the lead in the 29th minute. The African side never looked back from that point on, closing out the match behind a few key saves from Vincent Enyeama to improve to four points in Group F.
The result gives Nigeria a tremendous chance of getting to the knockout round as it needs just a point from its finale against Argentina on Wednesday to be sure of a spot in the round of 16. The African nation will advance if Iran fails to defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Arena Fonte Nova, also on Wednesday.
Bosnia-Herzegovina thought it had taken the lead in the 21st minute of Saturday’s clash when a well-worked move around the box culminated with Edin Dzeko getting through on goal and slotting a shot past Enyeama, but the strike was disallowed with the Manchester City man judged to have been in an offside position when the through ball was played, a harsh decision as television replays showed that Dzeko was a foot onside at the time of the delivery.
Dzeko had another tremendous opportunity three minutes later when he latched on to a threaded pass through the Nigerian defense, but Enyeama denied the striker by pushing the shot out for a corner.
Bosnia-Herzegovina was left to rue its misses as Nigeria took the lead just before the half-hour mark.
Emmanuel Emenike wriggled free of the defense on the right flank and got to the end line before sliding a pass in front of goal, allowing Odemwingie to turn in the delivery from close range for Nigeria’s first goal of the tournament.
Emenike continued his fine play after the halftime interval by testing Asmir Begovic at the hour mark. Odemwingie held off a couple of Bosnian defenders and dropped a pass back to the outside the penalty area, allowing Emenike to rifle a shot on goal from distance that forced a strong save from the Stoke City goalkeeper.
Bosnia-Herzegovina came close to leveling the score in the 74th minute when Vedad Ibisevic, who came off the bench for the second straight match, rose high to meet a corner kick but failed to get his header on target.
The best chances of the second half, however, were reserved for Dzeko in stoppage time. He nodded a cross down to the feet of Enyeama, but the Nigerian goalkeeper was able to make the difficult save from point-blank range without conceding a rebound.
Enyeama’s heroics continued shortly after when Dzeko settled a long ball played into the box and turned to fire a shot on target, but the Lille goalkeeper produced a kick save that went off the post and away from danger.
It proved to be the last moment of meaningful action as referee Peter O’Leary ended the match shortly after, dooming Bosnia-Herzegovina to a quick World Cup exit.
(Source Miami Herald)