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Football

AFCON 2021: Nigeria’s Super Eagles fly over Egypt Pharaohs

Egypt's Mo Salah squares up to Nigeria's Iheanacho

Iheanacho scores as Nigeria beat Egypt

Kelechi Iheanacho scores on the half-hour mark saw as Nigeria beat Egypt by a solitary goal, in a fast-paced Group D opener at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua on Tuesday evening.

Iheanacho slotted home a sublime strike to give the Super Eagles a perfect start in a game they hugely dominated and should have had more than one goal.

Egypt had a performance to forget with star striker Mohammed Salah kept quiet by a resolute defensive line lead by skipper William Troost Ekong. The Egyptians had a bad start to the game and just nine minutes in had to make changes when Akram Tawfik had to come out injured and was replaced by Mohamed Elsayed.

The Super Eagles had been off to a fast-paced start with the red hot Moses Simon being a handful for the Egyptian backline. The FC Nantes winger had the first chance of the game in the 26th minute when he was sent through on goal on the left by Joe Aribo but his shot hit the side netting.

It was from his industrious runs that Nigeria would open the scoring. His cross from the left was half-cleared by Ahmed Hegazi, the ball falling on Aribo who set up Iheanacho.

The Leicester FC striker set himself up with the first touch before firing a brilliant left-footed shot into the top corner.

It was a deserved lead for Nigeria who had played most of the opening minutes in the Egyptian half.

Three minutes to the break, they almost made it 2-0 when off a swift counter-attack, Taiwo Awoniyi was sent through on goal by Iheanacho but his eventual right-footed shot was easily gathered by Mohamed Elshenawy in the Egyptian goal.

In the second half, Egypt started brighter but they could still not find a way to get a goal. The decision to play Salah through the middle didn’t look to be working as he was more often bullied off the ball by the no-nonsense Ekong.

Iheanacho scores as Nigeria beats Egypt

Kenneth Omeruo of Nigeria shields the ball away from Egypt’s Mo Salah

Nigeria had a chance at goal again in the 65th minute, this time Iheanacho being set up by his Leicester City teammate Wilfred Ndidi, but he dragged his shot wide.

Egypt made more attacking changes with Ahmed Sayed ‘Zizo’ being brought in to beef up the attack. His introduction brought life to the forward line. In the 70th minute, he set up Salah with a decent through ball, but the Liverpool star could not get a firm shot on target under pressure from Ekong.

His effort rolled easily into Maduka Okoye’s waiting arms.

Nigeria’s afternoon was however tainted with defender Kenneth Omeruo having to be forced out injured after a solid performance at the back. He was replaced by Semi Ajayi as Nigeria looked to firm up the single goal lead to the final whistle.

Egypt threw bodies upfront as they sought to get a single goal that would get them back into the fixture. They were almost made to pay for this in the second minute of added time when off a counter attack Kelechi Nwakali sent fellow substitute Chidera Ejuke through on goal.

However, Elshenawy came to the Egyptians’ rescue with a neat save at his near post.

While Nigeria finished off the tie to claim three points, Egypt now face a daunting task in their next two matches to ensure passage to the round of 16.

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