Striker Sebastian Soto struck twice for the U.S. in rainy Bielsko-Bialo on Monday night, powering them to a 2-0 victory over Nigeria at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.
It was Nigeria’s first defeat of the competition, and leaves their qualification from the group in doubt.
U.S. coach Tab Ramos made just one change to the starting XI from his side’s opening 1-2 loss against Ukraine, and they reaped the reward with their first three points of the tourney.
First, Soto slipped his marker and nodded home Alex Mendez’s corner-kick at the far post in the 18th minute.
Less than one minute into the second half Soto snuck past the Nigeria defence yet again, doubling his team’s advantage after Chris Gloster played him through beautifully following a marauding run inside from the left-back.
Soto then got his feet and hips right, waited for the goalkeeper to collapse and popped the ball into the net with the inside of his right foot.
Paul Aigbogun’s men were not without their chances, leaving the U.S. scrambling from a flurry of brilliant individual efforts towards the end of the first half.
First, substitute Aniekeme Okon’s ferocious full volley at the top of the area was saved by Brady Scott.
That was followed by forward Maxell Effiom’s stinger from outside the right corner of the box which clipped the crossbar a minute later.
In the end, the U.S. were resolute, holding on to greatly lift their chances of advancing from Group D.
With this result both Nigeria and the U.S. have three points after two matches each, with one win and one loss each.
Ukraine who had earlier in the day defeated Qatar 1-0 however lead the group with six points from two wins after two games.
Nigeria, in second place ahead of the U.S. on goals difference, next take on Ukraine in a difficult final game.