Nigeria progressed to the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday evening as William Troost-Ekong scored a late winning goal to beat a stubborn Egypt 2-1 in Cairo.
The Super Eagles took the lead in the 27th minute as Samuel Chukwueze steered home at the second attempt. Egypt scored an equaliser against the run of play as Bongani Zungu nodded home in the 71st minute. However, the drama did not end there as defender William Troost-Ekong profited from Ronwen’s Williams mistake to score with only one minute of normal time remaining.
Tough South African defence breached
Despite showing plenty of the defensive solidarity and confidence that was on display against Egypt last time out throughout the first 25 minutes of the game, in which Nigeria really struggled to create a chance, Bafana Bafana’s resistance was broken midway through the first period. Alex Iwobi raced down the flank and crossed towards Chukwueze, who was drafted into the side. His first effort could only find a defender but the Villarreal man reacted first to power the ball home.
From that point on, the Super Eagles began to dominate, with Ahmed Musa and Iwobi particularly troubling South Africa with their pace. Regardless of that ascendency, they headed into the break with just the slender one-goal advantage.
Zungu leaps to level the scores
They resumed the second period in very much the same vain as Peter Etebo’s dipping freekick drew a spectacular save out of South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Stuart Baxter’s men struggled increasingly throughout the game and rarely threatened the Nigeria goal. That was until Zungu had his impact on the match. From a deep-free kick, the ball was nodded on towards the Amiens midfielder and he leapt highest to head a powerful header into the far corner to level the game with only 20 minutes left on the clock. There were strong appeals for offside but VAR confirmed that the ball came off of a Nigerian head.
Super Eagles steal late winner
Just as it looked like the game would be heading to extra-time, the drama continued as Gernot Rohr’s Nigeria scored a late, winning goal. The fault fell on Williams as he leapt to claim the ball from a corner but completely missed. It fell to Troost-Ekong, who prodded the ball into the net from close range to snatch a semi-final place for three-time winners Nigeria.
Nigeria certainly were made to work for this victory. The Super Eagles struggled to really get a foothold throughout the first portion of the game but once they did, they looked to be in control. That was until South Africa hit their shock equaliser. Nevertheless, thanks to Troost-Ekong, the Nigerian’s sealed a deserved win and their place in their first AFCON semi-final since their winning run in 2013.
Nigeria: Akpeyi (7); Awaziem (6), Ekong (7), Omeruo (6); Collins (6), Ndidi (7), Etebo (6); Musa (7) (Simon (N/)A, 81′), Iwobi (7) (Balogun (N/A), 90+1′); Chukwueze (7), Ighalo (6).
South Africa: Williams (5); Mkhize (5), Hlatshwayo (5), Mkhwanazi (6), Hlanti (6); Zungu (7), Furman (6), Mokotjo (6), Tau (5); Mothiba (6), Lorch (5) (Zwane (5), 58′).
Goals: Chukwueze (27′), Zungu (71′), Troost-Ekong (89′)
Referee: Redouane Jiyed
Yellow Cards: Mothiba (14′), Musa (35′), Hlatshwayo (49′), Tau (62′), Mkhize (75′)
Red Cards: N/A
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