Texas’ true National team came to Houston on Friday night and a Chicharito brace salvaged a 2-2 draw against Nigeria after they were reduced to ten men at Reliant Stadium.
Efe Ambrose was pleased with the result, “this was a training game so a 2-2 draw we were pleased with the result. Especially coming off a ten hour flight!”
Mexico started well for their home fans as they held the bulk of the early possession with the fans jeering whenever Nigeria had the ball but the chances were hard to come by for the Mexicans.
Nigeria had a solid chance in the 8th minute but Sunday Mba’s cross was overhit allowing Mexico to clear from the throw.
Mexico nearly hit the lead in the 10th minute as Chicharito got the ball after a pass from Pablo Barrera and looked to lift the ball over the onrushing keeper but could only find the crossbar, it bounced down and away allowing Nigeria to clear.
Mexico should have had the lead after a fluid passing move had Aldo De Nigris free only for his effort to be sent well wide of goal.
A superb save denied Di Nigris moments later as Barrera’s cross found Di Nigris who headed after getting off the back of his defender only to be denied by Austi Ejide.
Nigeria streamed down the field and thought they had the lead as a failed Mexico clearance saw Joseph Akpala tap the ball home only to be denied by an offside flag, although replays suggested Akpala may have been on at the time of the pass.
Mexico hit the lead in the 21st minute and it was Chicharito showing them how it’s done as he received Barrerra’s through ball and easily tucked it away easily for the opener.
It was the third time Chicharito scored in Houston in as many games and he was pleased, “Houston is a special city, it was where I played my first game with my club and we always get a good reception here.”
Nigeria earned a penalty in the 25th minute as a Akpala shot was saved before Mba saw his shot blocked by a handball which saw Barrera shown a straight red and allowed Aide Brown Ideye to step up and send the keeper the wrong way.
Nigeria took the lead in the 40th minute as Ugochukuwu’s shot from 20 yards out took a deflection off of Gerardo Torrado leaving the keeper stranded, that was enough for Nigeria to hold on as they went to the break 2-1 up.
Mexico tried to control the second half despite their disadvantage and were denied by another superb Ejide save in the 51st minute.
Mexico found their equalizer in the 70th minute as Chicharito took over fifth place on the Mexican all-time scorers list as a cross from Carlos Salcido found him in space and allowed him to send home the equalizer.
That firmly shifted the momentum in Mexico’s favor and they could have been in front moments later as the ball found Severo Meza after a counter, but he sent his shot in to the side netting.
Nigeria were restricted to shooting from distance in the final 15 minutes as Mexico looked to ram home their momentum which nearly lead to an own goal as a stunning bit of passing from the edge of the area forced Kenneth Omeruo to clear over his own goal.
In typical friendly fashion the substitutes coming on regularly slowed down the match which ended 2-2 despite Mexico’s late efforts.
These two teams could well meet in the Confederations cup semi-finals, a prospect that pleased Ambrose “We would be pleased to meet them again it would be an amazing game in Brazil.”
Mexico get to play in close quarters while Nigeria have an odyssey in the coming months as they play back in Africa before returning to Brazil. “It’s difficult, but we’re happy, we made some mistakes but we’ll look back and try to fix things… we’re happy to play for the Fatherland so it’s worth it.” said Ambrose.
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