Super Eagles fly over Angola to AFCON semifinals with Lookman’s lone strike

Nedu Okorie 2024-02-03 0

Forward Ademola Lookman grabbed the winning goal as the Super Eagles beat Angola 1-0 in the quarter-finals on Friday to book a spot in the semi-finals of the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria had a promising start seconds into the game but couldn’t get a clean shot away with Ademola Lookman and Ola Aina making attempts inside the Angolan box.

The Angolans, however, turned on the pressure immediately and won a corner in the second minute, after winger Deivi Gilberto sent in a cross that was deflected by stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong.

Stanley Nwabali, in goal for the Super Eagles, was then forced to make an amazing save from the corner.

Winger Moses Simon was brought down on the right in the 12th  minute close to the box, but the Eagles couldn’t capitalise as Lookman shot directly at the Angolan wall from the resultant free-kick.

In the 22nd minute, Osimhen went down clutching his ankle after a tackle from Manuel Cafumana but the striker continued the game amid cheers from the Nigerian supporters.

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.

Both sides shared possession afterwards, but it was the Nigerians that opened score in the 41st minute through Lookman, his third goal of the tournament.

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.

A minute later, Troost-Ekong deflected Mabululu’s shot for a 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.

Angola coach Pedro Goncalves made a change in midfield immediately after the break, bringing on Valdomiro Estrela for Antonio Zine in a bid to take charge of the middle of the pack.

But it was Jose Peseiro’s men who were once again in control with

Alex Iwobi watching his long-range effort deflected in the 47th minute.

Osimhen went down in the 49th minute near the Angola goal clutching his leg but got back on his feet after receiving treatment from two physios.

Substitute Zine caused jitters among Nigerian supporters  in the 59th minute, after his low diagonal shit came off the far post.

Nigeria responded with an attack of their own in the 62nd minute after Simon glided past two Angolans with ease but had his shot blocked.

Nigeria then defended deeply, before Osimhen headed a goal was ruled out for offside in the 75th minute. His header from Lookman’s free-kick was palmed into the net by Dominique, but the striker, who wheeled away in celebration, was deemed to have been fractionally offside following a VAR check.

Nwabali then does well to claim a looping ball inside a crowded penalty area in the 85th minute.

After the assistant referee announced seven minutes of extra time, the Eagles soaked the pressure while Nwabali continued to save crosses.

The Eagles will now play the winners of the quarter-finals clash between old foes South Africa and tournament surprise package Cape Verde February 7.