Ademola Lookman netted his third goal in two matches, propelling Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals on Friday with a 1-0 triumph over Angola in the quarter-finals.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Once again, Lookman seized the spotlight from Victor Osimhen, securing the victory by breaking the deadlock four minutes before half-time at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, following his double in the 2-0 win against Cameroon in the previous round.
The Super Eagles successfully managed the game in front of 18,757 spectators in Abidjan, with Osimhen finding the net, only for his effort to be disallowed by VAR, ruling him offside.
Despite the Napoli superstar, Africa’s reigning footballer of the year, remaining at just one goal in this AFCON, Nigeria’s success has been grounded in an impressive defense that has now maintained four consecutive clean sheets. The three-time continental champions progress to the semi-finals, set for next Wednesday against either Cape Verde or South Africa, who will compete in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Angola exits the tournament, but this Cup of Nations will be etched as a triumph for the Black Antelopes, securing their first-ever knockout win in the competition’s history.
Africa’s 28th-ranked side displayed bravery in their performance, although they couldn’t replicate their success over Namibia in the previous round. Jose Peseiro’s Nigeria side struggled to reach the same heights as against Cameroon six days earlier, potentially affected by the more intense heat and humidity at this stage of the competition.
Angola nearly took the lead within four minutes, as a corner from their right reached Mabululu, whose near-post attempt was denied by Stanley Nwabili, the Nigerian goalkeeper who passed a fitness test to play. Osimhen attempted headers twice, but it was Lookman, the Atalanta forward and former England Under-21 international, who broke the deadlock in the 41st minute.
Moses Simon initiated a pass on the left, accelerating away from Kialonda Gaspar and driving into the area before cutting the ball back for Lookman to finish emphatically.
Nigeria continued to create chances in the second half, while Angola missed a golden opportunity to draw level just before the hour mark. Zini, a half-time substitute and striker from AEK Athens, was sent through on goal, and his effort beat Nwabili, only to rebound off the far post.
It was a significant relief for Nigeria, who believed they had sealed the game when Osimhen rose to head home a Lookman free-kick with a quarter of an hour left. However, the goal was disallowed, causing frustration for Osimhen, who played on until the final moments despite suffering a series of knocks and being carried to the side of the pitch on a stretcher at one point.