AFCON: Iheanacho scores as Nigeria defeats Egypt
NEWS DIGEST − The Super Eagles of Nigeria defeated the Pharaohs of Egypt in the first match of Group D at the 2021 African Cup of Nations.
Nigeria started their campaign at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 win over Egypt on Tuesday.
Leicester City star Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal that separated the teams in Garoua as the 2019 bronze medallist extended their dominance over the North Africans.
Austin Eguavoen opted for Iheanacho and Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi to lead Nigeria’s frontline owing to the absence of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis and Al Shabab’s Odion Ighalo.
The three-time African champions did not take long to settle in the game with Moses Simon and Joe Aribo pulling the strings for the attack.
The Super Eagles posed their first threat in the 26th minute after Aribo slotted a through ball to Simon but the Nantes winger could not hit the target with his right-footed strike.
Five minutes later, Nigeria fired the ball into the penalty area and Aribo nodded the ball to Iheanacho who made a sharp turn and found the back of the net with his shot.
The Super Eagles had another chance to double their lead in the 42nd minute, but Iheanacho fired his effort straight at goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.
Egypt ended the first 45 minutes without breaking the Super Eagles’ defence as they struggled to test Maduka Okoye.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, as they struggled to test Maduka Okoye.
Eguavoen’s men started the second half on the same commanding note by winning two corner-kicks within three minutes.
Awoniyi came close to grabbing a second goal with his header off Ola Aina’s cross in the 47th minute but he was denied by the bar before El Shenawy wrapped the ball in his hands.
Salah found it difficult to beat the defensive duo of William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo.
The goal scorer, Kelechi Iheanacho was awarded as the Man of the Match of the game.
The result ended Egypt’s 16-game unbeaten run in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations, with their last group defeat dating back to 2004 (2-1 loss to Algeria).
Meanwhile, Nigeria climbed to the top of Group D table with three points and they will hope to build on the win when they face Sudan on Saturday.