Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the quarter-final of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast.
Nigeria booked a place in the next phase of the competition after defeating Cameroon 2-0 at the Stade Félix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan, on Saturday.
Ademola Lookman scored a brace as the Eagles outclassed the Indomitable Lions in the nerve-racking encounter.
Nigeria qualified for the second round after finishing second in Group A behind Equatorial Guinea. The team had failed to score more than one goal in their previous six matches.
But against the Lions, the Eagles broke the jinx with a bit more comfort and improved performance.
For the second consecutive game, Jose Peseiro, Super Eagles’ head coach, favoured a 3-4-3 formation with Stanley Nwabali in goal behind the defensive trio of Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi, and Calvin Bassey, while Ola Aina and Zaidu Sanusi on both flanks as wingbacks.
Alex Iwobi started in the midfield alongside Frank Onyeka. Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman and Victor Osimhen led the front line.
The Eagles thought they had taken the lead in the 12th minute after Ajayi finished off a rebound following a spillage from Fabrice Ondoa. But after a video assistant referee (VAR) review, the goal was ruled out for offside.
However, there was no denying them again in the 36th minute. Osimhen wrestled the ball from Oumar Gonzalez before setting up Lookman, whose shot trickled home under Fabrice Ondoa.
Lookman then scored his second late in the second half. He stabbed the ball past the limbs of Ondoa from close range after a long bust forward by Bassey.
In the end, it looked like a pyrrhic victory for Nigeria as Nwabali was stretched off after a collision with Georges-Kévin N’Koudou. The goalkeeper was replaced by Francis Uzoho.
The Super Eagles will play Angola in the quarter-final match billed for February 2.
Earlier, Angola defeated Namibia 3-0 in the other second-round game of the day
Stanley Nwabali; GK (4/5): He was confident as usual and dealt with the few attacks thrown his way. Unfortunately, he left the field injured following a collision with N’Koudou.
Ola Aina, WB (4.5/5): He had the license to roam forward, and the defender was only denied a goal by a well-timed block. Another wonderful display on the wings at both ends.
Calvin Bassey, DC (4.5/5): He was rock solid as usual, cleared his lines and had enough time to assist Lookman’s second goal.
Semi Ajayi, DC (4/5): He scored but was denied by VAR. The languid defender was an effective foil alongside Troost-Ekong and Bassey. He handled the business as usual without the flair.
William Troost-Ekong, DC (4.5/5): He cleared and blocked everything thrown at him. Ekong recovered from injury to lead, and he put in a captain’s performance.
Sanusi Zaidu, WB (3/5): He made overlapping runs and held his own as Cameroon tried to go through the wings. He put in a massive shift in defence.
Frank Onyeka, MC (4/5): He was saddled with covering the midfield landscape, the Brentford man battled all night and was unfazed by the physicality on display by the Cameroonian players.
Alex Iwobi, MC (3/5): He was tasked with linking midfield to attack. However, he looked a bit out of depth most times and completely scuffed a chance that could have cushioned the victory for Nigeria.
Moses Simon, WF (3/5): He had another average performance but was not helped by the defence-first approach.
Ademola Lookman, WF (4/5): He scored the vital brace that sent Nigeria into the last eight. His positioning throughout the game was excellent.
Victor Osimhen, ST (4/5): He was aggressive, strong and pacy. The leader in attack showed why he is sought after by the big European clubs. He robbed Gonzalez of the ball and won the physical battle before setting up Lookman for the goal. He was a handful for the Cameroonian defender throughout the match.
Francis Uzoho, GK (N/A): A warm entrance for the forgotten man. No action came to his side, but being on the winning side could boost his confidence.
Keneth Omeruo, DF (3/5): He was solid in the cameo. He slotted in perfectly into the defensive unit.
Bright Osayi-Samuel, WB (N/A): No time to impact the game.
Paul Onuachu, ST (N/A): No time to impact the game.