Iheanacho, Collins underwhelm - Player ratings: Liberia 0-2 Nigeria

The Super Eagles needed two penalties to confirm victory over a game Lone Star, but were outplayed for much of the proceedings.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria were victorious in Tangier, but it was a far from effective showing

Nigeria ensured CAF World Cup qualifying Group C would go down to the wire with a routine win over Liberia in Tangier. Here are how the individuals in green and white rated, on a scale of 0-10.

The Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper had precious little to do all game, as Liberia struggled to turn their possession into concerted shots. However, when he did intervene, he did not always transmit confidence. One early fumble set the heart racing, and a decision to punch unconvincingly when he could have caught thankfully did not amount to much.

A mixed bag from the defensive stalwart, who remains instrumental in the Super Eagles’ build-up play, but can sometimes struggle to assess risk. However, for all that his forward sorties can lead to turnovers occasionally, without him taking the liberty, the team would look very stolid indeed. Put in a couple of perfectly-timed, crunching tackles late on.

Closer to a 4 than a 5 for the vice captain. Allowed his opponent to come inside a little too easily on a couple of occasions, and lacks the calming influence and organizational nous required of a player in the middle of the back three. Almost teed up the opposition with a header in the second half, and his decision-making in terms of long-range passing can border on gratuitous at times.

Another solid display from the defender, who also shone last time out in Douala against Central African Republic. Always seemed to make the right decisions, and stepped up to cover for the other members of the back three at various points during the game. Might have rated a little higher if he did not give away a couple of needless fouls.

His second half was a lot better than his first, and there is a caveat in that he was occasionally overloaded, but at times it seemed taking him off would have been an act of mercy. Simply does not understand this wing-back role in terms of timing, and was far from solid in direct confrontations, getting bypassed on a number of occasions. Nearly dropped his goalkeeper in a spot of bother early on too.

His level of performance for the national team has dropped off massively from those heady couple of months. It does not help that Gernot Rohr insists on using him in this deep role, but still he offered little bravery and invention in possession, and continues to struggle with imposing himself on a game. Also a bit of a liability defensively, as he does not seem to know when to press and when to keep the team compact.

Felt good to have the sentinel back, as his mere presence transmits calm to the team. However, he was not in his best form today. Got stepped around with uncharacteristic ease on a few occasions, and his positioning sometimes made it even harder for the centre-backs to progress the ball. Looked a lot better when he pushed higher up the pitch to press the ball.

Oddly enough for a forward, it was Simon’s actions in defensive transition that were better executed. He counter-pressed the loss of possession well, and stemmed Liberia’s momentum with sensible positioning and a bit of the dark arts. On the ball, he showed guile and tenacity to evade opponents (one first-half swivel was particularly masterful), but his final ball let him down a lot of the time.

Yet again, the Everton man was the chief victim of the team’s inability to progress the ball through the thirds. As a result, he was forced to drop deep to get on it a lot of the time. However, beyond a couple of early balls over the top, he had little impact on proceedings even when he did get it, often opting for safe passes and recoiling at the opportunity to seize the initiative with something inventive.

Besides winning the penalty for the opener with a well-timed run, it is difficult to see precisely how much of an impact the Leicester City man had. As with Iwobi, it is partly a systemic issue, as he is required to drop much too deep. However, when he does get on it, it always seems like he feels the need to try something, as opposed to facilitating continuity and adding further layers to the attack overall.

Everything came from him or through him, really. Bore the brunt of the rough treatment from the Liberian defence, and still showed some neat link-up play to get Nigeria on the front foot again even while heavily isolated. Took his penalty well, and then won the second, but would have rated so much higher if he had put away his first-half chance. To be fair, it was a much more difficult opportunity than many recognise.

Came on with half an hour to play and largely did nothing of note. Props to him for trying to get his dribbling game going though, but considering how much the game opened up late on with Liberia’s mental exertions weighing on them, he really should have shown more than the obligatory lithe turn away from pressure.

Ahmed Musa: N/A

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