Nigeria/Cote d’Ivoire: Super Eagles Fly Into Nation’s Cup Semi-Final
The Nigerian Super Eagles on Sunday shocked bookmakers, trouncing tournament favourites, Ivory Coast 2-1 to advance to the semi final of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Goals from Emmanuel Emenike, and home based debutante, Sunday Mba, in both halves, ensured Nigeria moved closer to a third AFCON trophy.
The mouthwatering clash started with both sides looking fit and geared up for victory.
The first free-kick went to Ivory Coast after Didier Drogba went down following Elderson Echiejile touch, and the chance was wasted for a goal kick to Nigeria.
The Eagles found their balance with a 7th minute free kick nodded over the bar by Brown Ideye who had received Victor Moses’ spot kick.
Moments later, Moses fired goal-bound shot, but was blocked by goalkeeper Abubakar Barry. Ivory Coast won their first corner in the 12th minute, and were unable to make it fruitful.
Nigeria enjoyed most of the ball possession in the first 25 minutes, and Emmanuel Emenike was set by Brown Ideye, who again, fired wide over the bar.
Ogenyi Onazi brought down Salomon Kalou, and the Nigerian bagged a yellow card for the rough challenge.
Yaya Toure was booked for a rough challenge against Moses who was stretchered out briefly for medical attention.
Then, Nigeria got a free-kick, and Emenike’s powerful strike put the Super Eagles ahead in the 43rd minute.
After the break
Kalou was booked just after the break for a dive in Nigeria’s 18 yard box as Ivory Coast begun frantic search for an equalizer.
Dider Drogba won a free-kick at the edge of the box, and his low-flying pass met a waiting Cheik Tiote, who nodded in for an equalizer in the 49th minute.
Ivory Coast then looked more purposeful, and gained most of the balls, but Nigeria won a 55th minute corner that was not well utilized.
Toure was set, and took one defender before firing a straight shot that took the intervention of Vincent Enyeama to deny Ivory Coast the lead in the 68th minute.
Nigeria headed for the counter, and Sunday Mba found a perfect position to place Barry to give Nigeria 79th minute lead.
The final five minutes was full of pressure as the Ivoriens look for another equalizer, but Nigeria fought to hold on and ensured they advance to the semi final.
The Stephen Keshi handled side will now play Mali in the semi-final.