Welcome to Takis-on-Line
World Cup Trophy
World Cup '98
World Cup '98 Mascot
World Cup
19 June 1998 Group D Paris - Parc de Princes
Nigeria Bulgaria
A cosmopolitan crowd basking in the baking heat inside the Parc des Princes, Paris, saw Nigeria secure their place in the second stage of France '98, following this 1-0 victory against Bulgaria. The "Group of Death" has proved far from that for the Africans who followed up their surprise 3-2 defeat of Spain with a well-deserved triumph thanks to a 27th-minute goal from African Footballer of the Year Victor Ikpeba. Nigeria, brimming with confidence from the off, set about the Bulgarians in a match of contrasting styles, with the exciting, free-flowing football of the Africans up against a more patient routine approach by the Europeans. Finidi George had an effort punched over for a corner and Sunday Oliseh again showed his shooting prowess when driving narrowly wide in the first ten minutes. For all the Nigerians refreshing natural creativity, the Bulgarians always looked dangerous when breaking forward and in the strike pairing of Stoichkov and Kostadinov they had the experienced heads to trouble any naivety in the African defence. It came as little surprise when Nigerian took the lead on 27 minutes from a typical piece of delightful interplay involving the vastly gifted Augustine Okocha and the powerful promptings of Daniel Amokachi, who combined to slice open the Bulgarian defence to set up Ikpeba for a goal of stunning simplicity. Bulgaria sent out several warnings before half-time that they were still very much in the match, with a couple of long-range efforts from Kostadinov and Stoichkov, whilst Nigeria's grace and fluency conjured up further goal attempts for Ikpeba and Okocha. After the interval Bulgaria stepped up their tempo realising that they needed something out of this match with the final group game against Spain to come. Again it was the two veterans Kostadinov and Stoichkov who so nearly snatched the equaliser after 66 minutes, but the latter's instinctive toe-poke just shaved Peter Rufai's post. Within the space of eight minutes Nigeria had three glorious chances to settle the contest, as first substitute Nwanko Kanu saw a volley tipped over by Zdravkov, then Finidi George miscued in front of goal before Lawal had a shot blocked on the line. Bulgaria so nearly made the Africans pay when Kostadinov struck the underside of the crossbar in the 87th-minute with the ball rebounding to safety, but a goal then would have been extremely harsh on Nigeria who grittily hung on for victory. Nigeria now top Group D with six points whilst Bulgaria are level on one point in the last position with Spain who later tonight drew with Paraguay in St Etienne.

(1-0) Ikpeba (27). A marvellous interplay between Okocha and Amokachi saw a ball played into the striker, who dummied defender Ivanov, allowing the ball to run across his body, before finishing neatly with the outside of his right foot low under the body of 'keeper Zdravkov from ten yards.

| Group Stage | Second Round | Quarter Finals | Semi Finals | Final |
World Cup '98 Menu
Page created by Christakis Ioannou on Friday, 19 June 1998
E-mail: webmaster@takisonline.com