Nigeria have set up a mouth-watering last-16 meeting with Germany after beating Hungary 2-0 to leapfrog the Magyars into second place in Group E.
The Hungarians still qualify, though, as one of the best third-placed teams and will now kick off the knockout phase against Group D winners Serbia in Dunedin. Nonetheless, they were well beaten at New Plymouth’s Taranaki Stadium, with Taiwo Awoniyi’s brace no more than the African champions deserved for their overall dominance.
Manu Garba’s charges were the better side throughout, nullifying four-goal forward Bence Mervo and providing a constant threat at the other end. They would have taken the lead as early as the 16th minute but for an incredible save from Gyorgy Szekely, who stuck out a strong right hand to beat away Awoniyi’s powerful close range header.
The Hungary keeper was merely delaying the inevitable though and was helpless to prevent the deadlock being broken 17 minutes later. Awoniyi was the scorer, ghosting away from his marker to volley in at the near post from Saviour Godwin’s teasing low cross.
The Europeans rarely threatened a comeback but did produce one effort of note a few minutes into the second half. Mario Nemeth was just a couple of inches away from a wonder goal, in fact, having taken aim from 30 yards and rattled the crossbar with Joshua Enaholo beaten.
However, the points – and second place – were secured in the 54th minutes when Awoniyi doubled his and tally. It was a goal that neither Attila Osvath or Akos Kecskes will want to watch again, with the Hungary duo having both gone up for the same header at the halfway line, collided and missed the ball entirely.
Awoniyi could hardly believe his luck and, though he still had some work to do, he did it in style, dribbling past a covering defender before rounding Szekely and tucking the ball into the unguarded net.