Belo Horizonte: John Obi Mikel and Umar Sadiq led Nigeria to a 3-2 victory over Honduras in the Rio Olympics men’s football bronze-medal match, demonstrating a greater thirst for goals and above all superior execution.
The 29-year-old Mikel, a midfielder for English club Chelsea and one of Nigeria’s two over-aged players, was on Saturday involved in all three goals and was his squad’s standout player, while striker Sadiq played the role of sidekick in heaping pressure on Honduras’ defence, Efe news reported.
The Africans had chances early on and finally opened the scoring in the 34th minute at Mineirao Stadium in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte when William Troost-Ekong took the ball away from Romell Quioto and passed to Mikel, whose cross beat goalkeeper Luis Lopez and found Umar for a tap-in.
Nigeria held on to that slim 1-0 lead at half-time but soon turned the game into an apparent rout thanks to more offensive pressure by Mikel, who fired a shot in the 50th minute that the Honduran net minder got a hand on but could not corral.
The rebound went to Aminu Umar, who immediately found the back of the net.
Nigeria then further increased its lead five minutes later with a second goal by Sadiq, who broke free from his defender, received a pass from Mikel and fired past Lopez.
The game was seemingly out of reach but Honduras refused to go quietly, getting one goal from Anthony Lozano in the 74th minute and a second from Marcelo Pereira 12 minutes later.
Time, however, was not on the side of the Central Americans, who went one round further than in London but still fell short of a medal.
The Nigerians, meanwhile, continued their strong play in the Summer Olympics, adding a bronze medal to the gold medal they captured at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the silver they won at the 2008 Games in Beijing.