Ahmed Musa bagged a brilliant brace to give Nigeria a 2-0 win against Iceland in their penultimate group match at the Volgograd Arena on Friday evening.
The game started at a slow pace but the speedy forward scored only four minutes after half-time to snatch the lead for the Super Eagles. He repeated the trick with only 15 minutes left on the clock with a stunning solo goal to secure the three points for his country and give them hope of progression to the last-16.
Heimir Hallgrímsson made two changes for the game as Rúrik Gíslason replaced the injured Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. Meanwhile, Reading's Jón Daði Böðvarsson was drafted into the place of Emil Hallfreðsson.
Elsewhere, Gernot Rohr made three alterations to the Nigerian team that lost 2-0 to Croatia. Leicester City duo Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho spearheaded the attack, whilst Kenneth Omeru was named in the place of Shehu Abdullahi.
Slow start in the scorching sun
Iceland started the game at a fantastic tempo and Gylfi Sigurðsson had two opportunities within the first five minutes to open the scoring. First, he tested Francis Uzoho from a free-kick, before he gathered a great flick only to send a tame effort towards goal.
Both sides struggled to create real, clear-cut chances throughout the first period but Iceland appeared to come to life with only minutes left. Birkir Bjarnason did excellently to wriggle away from his marker on the left-flank and put in a teasing low ball into the penalty area but it evaded any sort of touch from an Icelandic body.
Another late opportunity came the way of Alfred Finnbogason as his deft touch from a Sigurðsson free-kick saw the ball dribble just wide of the post. Böðvarsson then got free from a corner and nodded towards the top corner only for his effort to drift harmlessly wide.
Musa sees Super Eagles soar
Nigeria looked transformed in the second-half as Tyronne Ebuehi replaced Bryan Idowu. Oghenekaro Etebo produced a storming run through midfield but could only shoot straight at Hannes Þór Halldórsson.
The change did pay off though as the Super Eagles seized the lead thanks to a lethal finish from Musa. Victor Moses stormed down the right-wing and picked out the speedy frontman with a great cross towards the front post. Musa took the ball down excellently and with his next touch, thundered it home.
The Nigerians kept up their attacking philosophy and almost bagged a second through a long-range strike from N'didi but the goalkeeper did well to tip the ball over.
Musa the man again
Leon Balogun also had a great chance from a diving header but the ball did not have enough purchase to trouble Halldórsson and drifted wide. Musa was so close to bagging his second as he set his sights from distance but his thunderous shot crashed off of the crossbar.
The 25-year-old went one better only minutes later as he bagged his second. Racing away from Kári Árnason, he soon found himself in the box but still with much to do. The Leicester man composed himself, skipped around the goalkeeper, two defenders and coolly slotted into the net.
Sigurðsson freezes as Iceland spurn penalty opportunity
Despite the Nigerian dominance, Iceland did have the chance to earn a foothold in the closing stages. Finnbogason found space in the area and was scythed down by Ebuehi. Although the original decision from the referee was no penalty, VAR awarded the spot-kick. Sigurðsson stepped up, only to blaze the ball over the bar.
Finnbogason then had the opportunity to find the net as he ran free of the Nigeria defence but could not beat Uzoho as Nigeria held on for a fantastic victory and now sit second in Group D.
A point against Argentina next week will be enough to see them qualify. Meanwhile, Iceland have to beat Croatia and hope results go their way to avoid elimination.