Nigeria crash out after 2-1 loss to Sweden

Sweden beat Nigeria 2-1 in their World Cup Group F match at Kobe.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Kobe, Japan:

Nigeria was eliminated from the World Cup Friday as Sweden came back from a goal down with two goals by Henrik Larsson to win the Group F match by 2-1. Larsson powered home a 62nd minute penalty after he was fouled in the area by Ifeanyi Udeze, driving his right-footed past Nigeria keeper Ike Shorunmo, who got a hand to the ball but could not clear it. That goal came after Larsson had tied the game in the 35th minute. The Glasgow Celtic striker took a pass from Freddie Ljungberg, jinked around one player to race into the box and, under the challenge of three Nigerian defenders, poked his shot into the right corner. Nigeria had gone ahead in the 27th minute. Joseph Yobo went on a surging run down the right flank and whipped in a curling cross. Julius Agahowa rose above two Swedish defenders and powered his header in from close range. The 19-year-old celebrated the goal with seven spectacular, perfectly executed backflips, delighting the crowd. The result leaves Nigeria with no points from two games. Sweden now leads Group F - the so-called "Group of Death'' - with four points from two matches. Argentina meets England in the other Group F game match later Friday. In one of the most entertaining games of the tournament, Sweden, playing without injured defender and captain Patrik Anderssen, started better. Marcus Allback and Olof Mellberg went close early on and in the 20th minute Johan Mjallby had his header cleared off the line. But Nigeria, which started without its captain - Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu - improved as the game wore on. After Sweden's goal, Nigeria almost regained its lead. Jay Jay Okacha danced around the Sweden defense and sent in a shot. Teddy Lucic went to clear the danger but the ball only hit Johan Mjallby and his clearance bounced onto the post. The second half was equally entertaining with the two sides passing the ball around superbly and players from both teams producing some outstanding moments of skill. In the final minutes, Nigeria had several clear scoring chances. Taribo West fired a header wide from close range, John Utaka's shot was cleared off the line and Joseph Yobo's shot crashed off the left post in the 83rd minute. Lineups: Nigeria: 1-Ike Shorunmu, 2-Joseph Yobo, 3-Celestine Babayaro (4-Nwanko Kanu, 66) 5-Isaac Okoronkwo, 6-Taribo West, 9-Bartholomew Ogbeche (7-Pius Ikedia, 71), 10-Jay Jay Okocha (c), 14-Ifeanyi Udeze, 15-Justice Christopher, 17-Julius Aghahowa, 21-John Utaka. Sweden: 1-Magnus Hedman, 2-Olof Mellberg, 4-Johan Mjallby (c), 6-Tobias Linderoth, 7-Niclas Alexandersson, 8-Anders Svensson, 9-Freddie Ljungberg, 10-Marcus Allback (22-Andreas Andersson, 64), 11-Henrik Larsson, 15-Andreas Jakobsson, 16-Teddy Lucic. Referee: Rene Ortube (Bolivia).