Super Eagles rout minnows Tahiti 6-1

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nigeria_tahiti_match1Nigeria opened the scoring in the fifth minute on a deflected goal and never looked back, routing Tahiti 6-1 in its opening game at the Confederations Cup. Tahiti closed the gap to two in the second half, but Nigeria proved too much for the Oceania side. Here are five takeaways from Nigeria’s win on Monday:

With the win, Nigeria extended its team-record unbeaten streak to 18 matches. Nigeria’s six goals in one game tied the second most in Confederations Cup history. Brazil scored eight in defeating Saudi Arabia 8-2 in the 1999 semifinals.

Nnamdi Oduamadi became the first African player to record a hat trick at a senior FIFA tournament. He’s the ninth player to score three times in a game at the Confederations Cup. The previous Confederations Cup hat trick belonged to Fernando Torres against New Zealand in 2009.

Oduamadi also led the team in penalty area touches (nine), completed passes into the penalty area (three) and chances created (two).

Nigeria could have made the final margin wider. Nigeria finished with 33 touches in the penalty area, 13 chances created and 12 passes completed into the penalty area; all three are the most thus far in the Confederations Cup. But Nigeria also recorded eight turnovers in the attacking third, tied for the most so far.

Nigeria’s impatience was costly when attacking. Nigeria was called offside 10 times. The other seven teams were called offside a total of four times in the opening matches.

One explanation for Nigeria’s lapses could be youth. Nigeria has by far the youngest roster of any Confederations Cup team with an average age of 23 years and 110 days. The next-youngest roster belongs to Tahiti, whose average age is 25 years and 209 days.

Tahiti entered the Confederations Cup as heavy underdogs. ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) ranks Tahiti as the 147th team in the world. After Tahiti, Japan is the lowest-ranked SPI team in the Confederations Cup at 28th. Nigeria is currently ranked 19th, according to SPI.

Midfielder Marama Vahirua is the only full-time professional player on Tahiti’s squad, and he recorded the assist on Jonathan Tehau’s 54th-minute goal. The goal was Tahiti’s first at any FIFA tournament. Tehau later became only the second player to ever score a goal and an own goal in the same game at a senior FIFA tournament. Tehau joined the Netherlands’ Ernie Brandts, who scored for and against Italy at the 1978 World Cup.

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