Moses' Nigeria qualify for World Cup
News Sat 7 Oct 2017
Victor Moses helped Nigeria secure their place at next summer's World Cup with a crucial win over Zambia, and N'Golo Kante took a step closer to qualification with France.
Our number 15 started on the right wing for the Super Eagles in the decisive 1-0 victory in African qualifying. Nigeria began the day in first spot in their group as they took on second-placed Zambia. who sat three points behind, with only the top-placed team progressing to the tournament itself.
With so much at stake it was no surprise that the match in Nigeria proved to be a tense encounter, with Zambia desperate to push for goal and the hosts determined to frustrate them with a professional performance.
That saw the visiting side making most of the early running, but finding the Super Eagles a tough nut to crack, as well as a constant threat on the break. Moses was the creator of the best chance to break the deadlock in the first half, following a powerful drive forward with a chipped pass to set Odion Ighalo through on goal just before the break, but the former Watford striker hit his shot wide.
The second period continued to the same frustrating pattern, but it was eventually Nigeria who found the breakthrough to kill of Zambia's qualification hopes. Moses again played a big part, finding Abdullahi Shehu in space, with the midfielder cutting the ball back for substitute Alex Iwobi to finish the move.
Nigeria weathered the inevitable Zambian onslaught comfortably in the closing stages to make sure they will be in action in Russia in 2018. Ola Aina came on with 79 minutes played to make his full international debut. Our former player John Mikel Obi was also part of the side.
N'Golo Kante started for France as they won 1-0 in Bulgaria to ensure they will finish in the top two of Group A, but it was a bitter-sweet victory for our midfielder, as he was forced off with an injury soon after the half-hour mark.
He was on the pitch when Les Bleus took their early lead, though, as midfield partner Blaise Matuidi finished from a tight angle after meeting Antoine Griezmann's flick on.
The remainder was a scrappy match with plenty of fouls but few chances for either side, meaning that early strike was enough to settle matters in France's favour, although Bulgaria did threaten to ruin their day when Hugo Lloris was forced to save well from Simeon Slavchev in the final minute of injury time.
France will now look to finish the job and book their place at the World Cup when they host Belarus on Tuesday evening, sitting one point ahead of second-placed Sweden at the top of the group, going into those final qualification fixtures.
Elsewhere, Michy Batshuayi got his name on the score sheet for a Belgium side captained by Eden Hazard, with Thibaut Courtois also starting their thrilling 4-3 win over Bosnia & Herzegovina in European qualifying.
Belgium had already guaranteed their place at the World Cup in the last round of matches, perhaps contributing to the open nature of this game, with the action coming thick and fast right from the start.
Thomas Meunier opened the scoring for Belgium by slotting home Hazard's cut back after just four minutes in Sarajevo, but the home side scored twice in quick succession through Haris Medunjanin and Edin Visca to go in ahead at half time.
However, the second half belonged to the visitors, with Batshuayi testing former Blues keeper Asmir Begovic on two occasions before getting the equaliser in the 59th minute, showing his poaching instincts once again by finishing well from close range after Begovic had saved Yannick Carrasco's effort.
Jan Vertonghen then gave Belgium the lead, only to see Bosnia & Herzegovina's Dario Dumic level things from a corner with eight minutes remaining. There was one final twist, though, as Carrasco gave the visiting side the win by smashing the ball into the net following a frantic scramble in the penalty box.
Chelsea youngster Jospeh Colley also tasted international victory, at Under-19 level. Colley played the full match at left-back as Sweden won 3-0 at home against Moldova in qualifying for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship.