The Super Eagles defeated Angola 1-0 in the quarterfinals on Friday to secure a trip to the 2023 AFCON semifinals in Ivory Coast thanks to a goal from Ademola Lookman.
With Ademola Lookman and Ola Aina trying to score from inside the Angolan box, Nigeria had a bright start to the game but were unable to finish with a clear shot.
But the Angolans quickly applied pressure and were awarded a corner in the second minute when William Troost-Ekong, the substitute captain, deflected a cross that was attempted by winger Deivi Gilberto.
Stanley Nwabali, in goal for the Super Eagles, was then forced to make an amazing save from the corner.Gilberto headed the whipped ball on, and Agostinho Mabululu nearly put one in with his side foot, but Nwabali stopped him at the near post.
Gilberto then sent his header from the resultant corner wide to ease pressure on the Nigerian defence.
The Eagles then created two chances within the eighth minute with marauding forward Victor Osimhen beaten by the Palancas Negras goalkeeper Signori Dominique to Alex Iwobi’s cross inside the box and Ademola Lookman tried unsuccessfully to wreak havoc with a cross following a corner.
In the twelfth minute, Winger Moses Simon was brought down on the right near the box, but Lookman’s free-kick straight at the Angolan wall prevented the Eagles from taking advantage.
After a tackle by Manuel Cafumana in the 22nd minute, Osimhen went down clutching his ankle, but the Nigerian fans cheered him on as he continued to play.A minute later, the Napoli man zipped in a dangerous header towards goal, ghosting in front of his markers to meet Simon’s cross from the right but Dominique was in the right spot at the right to curtail danger.
The Nigerians took the lead in the 41st minute through Lookman, who scored his third goal of the competition. Afterwards, both teams exchanged possession.Lookman joins Odion Ighalo, Austin Okocha and Rashidi Yekini as the only Nigerians to have scored at least three goals in the knockout stages of a single AFCON tournament.
Simon raced down the left following a pass from Iwobi and the Nantes winger delivered a low cross to Lookman inside the box the Atalanta man made no mistake with his effort this time, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from close range, sending Dominique flying the wrong way.After 60 seconds, Mabululu’s shot was deflected by Troost-Ekong, sending it to the corner.But again, it was three-time champions Nigeria that almost doubled their lead.
However, left-back Zaidu Sanusi seemed to have ran out of ideas inside the Angolan box and was easily dispossessed, before Senegalese referee Issa Sy’s half-time whistle sounded as a huge relief for the Angolans, who are reaching this stage of the competition for the third time ever.Immediately following the interval, Angola coach Pedro Goncalves made a midfield substitution, replacing Antonio Zine with Valdomiro Estrela in an attempt to take command of the middle of the pack.
However, Jose Peseiro’s men were once more in charge withIn the 47th minute, Alex Iwobi witnessed his long-range attempt deflect.
After receiving treatment from two physiotherapists, Osimhen stood up again in the 49th minute, close to the Angola goal, clutching his leg.After his low diagonal shit hit the far post in the 59th minute, substitute Zine unnerved the Nigerian fans.Simon easily dribbled past two Angolans before his shot was blocked, setting up a counterattack by Nigeria in the 62nd minute.
Nigeria then mounted a strong defence, and in the 75th minute, Osimhen’s header was disallowed for offside. Dominique put his header from Lookman’s free kick into the net, but a VAR check showed that the striker, who wheeled away in celebration, was fractionally offside.
Then, in the 85th minute, Nwabali makes an excellent play to bring down a ball that is looping inside a crowded penalty area.
Seven minutes of extra time were signalled by the assistant referee, and the Eagles soaked up the pressure as Nwabali kept saving crosses.
The tournament’s surprise package, Cape Verde, and longtime rivals South Africa will square off in the quarterfinals on February 7 against the Eagles.