Arsenal teenager and Nigeria international put the the disappointment of Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations behind him with a Man of the Match performance at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon against international teammate Odion Ighalo and Watford.
Iwobi played his first competitive match for Nigeria last Friday against Egypt in Kaduna as a late sub in a 1-1 draw against Egypt and also came on as a sub in the 1-0 defeat to the Egyptians in Alexandria four days later. Many Nigerian fans are still scratching their heads trying to figure out why coach Samson Siasia did not start the young prodigy.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had no problem having Iwobi in the starting lineup, following on from his confident displays in their last two matches against Barcelona and Everton. Iwobi set up their first goal from a floated cross to Alexis Sanchez as the Chilean scored when the ball rebounded off the Watford goalie in the fourth minute.
Watch the goals and highlights
Sanchez returned the favour after 38 minutes, crossing low from the right for Iwobi to side-foot home from near the penalty area. It was his second goal from his second start for Arsenal and he was oozing with class and confidence. He nearly made it three for Arsenal when his shot hit the crossbar early in the second half. The rout was completed with a deflected shot from Hector Bellerin and a late tap-in from Theo Walcott, who replaced Iwobi after 73 minutes.
Wenger was full of praise after the match for young Iwobi, who has been at the club since he was 8: “He’s very mobile and he’s a midfielder who’s creative as well as a finisher. He’s blessed with talent and has the right attitude”.
Iwobi, who is the nephew of former Nigeria international captain Jay-Jay Okocha, also got a purring endorsement from another Nigerian legend that starred for Arsenal – Nwankwo Kanu, who tweeted: “Congrats iwobi we are proud of you so keep performing this way and am happy for you. Well done arsenal good all round performance”.
It wasn’t a good day for Ighalo, who struggled to make an impact, perhaps after the exertions of the two matches against Egypt and was withdrawn after 46 minutes.