Nigeria’s Super Eagles’ dominance over archrivals, the Lions of Cameroon since 1989 continued on Saturday when the Gernot Rohr’s side thumped Clarence Seedorf’s team 3-2 in a thrilling AFCON 2019 Round of 16 match at the Alexandria Stadium, Completesports.com reports.
Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo scored a brace as the three time African Champions, Nigeria, knocked out defending Champions, Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
Arsenal forward, Alex Iwobi sealed the win with his exquisite strike of extraordinary quality in the 66th minute that won the crunchy tie for Nigeria, thus, becoming the third team to seal a place in the AFCON 2019 quarterfinals.
Iwobi found himself at the positive end of swift passing game involving Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and Oghenekaro Etebo and made no mistake in slicing the ball past the gripping gloves of the Cameroonian goalkeeper.
Senegal and Benin Republic, two West African sides, are the first to book their quarter finals places following victories in their Friday’s round of 16 games.
Cameroon who have not beaten the Super Eagles in open play since 1989, roared into possession in the opening half, bossing the Eagles in a bid to find the breakthrough.
But it turned out the other way round as Odion Ighalo fired the ambitious Super Eagles into the lead on 19 minutes. A free kick on the right hand side of the Lions box created a scene of scramble inside the box and Ighalo was presented with a glorious opportunity of slipping the ball beyond the reach of the outstretched Cameroonian goalkeeper,Andre Onana, for Nigeria’s opening goal.
The three time African Champions had an instant opportunity to extend their advantage soon after but goalkeeper Nana went down low enough to save Alex Iwobi’s effort on the line as Super Eagles grew in confidence.
But the defending Champions could not be caged much longer, ensuring they retained their shape, form, confidence and possession as they probed every space for a possible equaliser.
In what clearly appears as a game for the No.9s, Stephan Bahokan restored parity for the five time Champions on 40 minutes.
A cross from the left hand channel saw Bahokan run into the area to plant his right foot effort beyond the reach of goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.
With scoreline now at one apiece, it looked as though the two sides will go into the half time break on level terms. But the Cameroonians have a different script up their sleeves.
Just three minutes after Bahokan’s strike brought the Lions back into the game, Njie struck with Cameroon’s second of the night in the 43rd minute.
A long ball from just after the half way line saw Njie outrun Eagles rear men after Kenneth Omeruo and Ola Aina lost their defensive ideas. Njie had Akpeyi for a dinner with a clever smash on the near post.
Although Cameroon enjoyed a 59-41 ball possession, it however did not stop Moses from getting a chance to draw Nigeria level but he directed his left foot effort waywardly over the crossbar as both sides retired into the dressing room for the halftime break.
The restart took almost the shape of the first with Super Eagles now taking the game to their opponents. It did not take long for Odion Ighalo to restore parity for Super Eagles on 63 minutes. It was his second on the night and third of the tournament.
The Alexandria stadium bust into life as Super Eagles fans celebrated Ighalo’s leveler. But just as Cameroon scored two in three minutes in the first half, Alex Iwobi replicated same for Nigeria in the second period as he scored Nigeria’s third goal on 66 minutes. It was his first AFCON finals goal as Nigeria now defended in numbers with occasional breaks as the game wore on.
With the Super Eagles now back on the driving seat, Manager Gernot Rohr resorted to game management, withdrawing Ighalo for Paul Onuachu and Iwobi for Troost-Ekong as the Super Eagles hung on for another famous win over the Indomitable Lions.
The 3-2 defeat thus ended the defending Champions campaign in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
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By Adeboye Amosu in Alexandria