The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has reached the quarter-final stage and the first of those took place in Abidjan on Friday evening, with Nigeria knocking out Angola after a 1-0 victory.
It’s now four clean sheets in a row for the Super Eagles, who look defensively solid and to have a platform for success, despite possessing some of the best attacking talents with the likes of Victor Osimhen in their squad. Tonight though – as in the round of 16 – it was Ademola Lookman who scored the winner, netting in the first half for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Osimhen did find the back of the net but saw his goal ruled out for offside, while Angola rarely threatened to find a late equaliser in truth. Nigeria will play South Africa or Cabo Verde in the semis.
Nigeria through to Afcon semi-finals as they edge past Angola
Nigeria edged past Angola 1-0 to reach the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals thanks to a first-half goal from Ademola Lookman.
The former Fulham and Everton winger crashed home the only goal of the game in the 41st minute as the Super Eagles, chasing a fourth Afcon title, came up against a determined resistance in Abidjan.
Jose Peseiro’s side will face the winner of Cape Verde against South Africa, who meet in Yamoussoukro on Saturday, for a place in the final.
Nigeria’s star striker Victor Osimhen twice went close in the first half with headers, the first when he got on the end of Moses Simon’s cross but could only guide this effort into the goalkeeper’s hands, then again when he nodded across goal after meeting Ola Aina’s long throw.
What would prove to be the winning goal arrived four minutes before half-time and Simon was the architect.
Alex Iwobi began the move with a sweeping ball from right to left. Nantes winger Simon found space with a well-time run down the wing and, having carried the ball to the byline, looked up and found Lookman. He evaded the attention of Angola’s defence and hit a thumping first-time finish into the roof of the net.
Early in the second half, Calvin Bassey took the ball off the foot of team-mate Osimhen as he sought to execute a close-range overhead kick, the Fulham player nodding over the bar after Angola failed to clear a corner, as Nigeria sought to settle the game.
Minutes later, Angola came within an inch of levelling. Zini sprung Nigeria’s offside trip with an expertly timed run from a defence-splitting pass. Bearing down one-on-one against Stanley Nwabali, he opened up his right foot and despatched an effort that rebounded off the inside of the post and away to safety.
Osimhen thought he had made it 2-0 when his header from Bassey’s free-kick went in off the post, but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside, to the relief of Angola goalkeeper Antonio Dominique who had allowed the ball to squeeze through his hands.
The Napoli striker spurned another chance to seal it with 10 minutes to play, racing on to Lookman’s ball out from the back and running through on goal. He was denied by a superb last-ditch block from defender Kialonda Gaspar who deflected the ball away.