NIGERIA booked their place in the World Cup second round last night when they condemned Greece to a third successive defeat and earned the right to face Italy here on Tuesday.
The gifted Africans beat Christos Karkamanis, the third Greek goalkeeper of the competition, with goals at the end of each half through Finidi George and and Daniel Amokachi to win Group D.
Greece made five other changes and there was encouragement for them as Panayotis Tsalouhidis was wide with a header and Minas Hantzidis likewise after cutting inside. George answered with a blistering reply against the crossbar. A sparkling exchange then saw Emmanuel Amunike fire disappointingly wide.
Three minutes before half- time Amokachi was sent through and when Yannis Kalitzakis cleared off the line the Scottish referee, Leslie Mottram, wrongly adjudged that he was aiming a back pass at his goalkeeper. The official's blushes were spared when Rashidi Yekini sent his shot high into the stand.
No matter. Within four minutes Nigeria were in front when Amunike went on the charge. Again there were huge holes in the Greek defence and this time George's execution was exemplary, lifting the ball delicately over the goalkeeper.
Yekini thought he had made it two but Karkamanis saved with his legs. The African muscle power, bitterly condemned by Argentina, was seldom in evidence.
NIGERIA (4-4-2): Rufai (Go Ahead Eagles); Keshi (no club), Emenalo (RWD Molenbeek), Okechukwu (Fenerbahce), Nwanu (Anderlecht); Siasia (Nantes), George (Ajax), Oliseh (Reggiana), Amunike (MSV Duisburg); Amokachi (Club Bruges), Yekini (Olympiakos). Substitutes: Okocha (Eintracht Frankfurt) for Yekini, 69; Adepoju (Santander) for George, 84.
GREECE (3-6-1): Karkamanis (Aris Salonika); Alexiou (PAOK Salonika), Kalitzakis (Panathinaikos), Karayannis (AEK Athens); Hantzidis (Olympiakos), Tslaouhidis (Olympiakos), Nioplias (Panathinaikos), Kofidis (Aris Salonika), Mitropoulos (AEK Athens), Alexis Alexandris (AEK Athens); Machlas (OFI Crete). Substitutes: Tsiantakis (Olympiakos), for Mitropoulos, 72; Dimitriadis (AEK Athens) for Machlas, 79.
Referee: L Mottram (Scotland).