•Lookman double fires dominant Eagles to win over Lions
•Three-time champions set up Angola q’final clash
The Super Eagles on Saturday progressed to the quarter-finals of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-0 win over Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Ivory Coast on Saturday, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
With the win, Nigeria will now play Angola in the quarter-finals February 2, as they hope to claim a fourth continental title after previous wins in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
It was a blockbuster clash that had generated reviews as the old rivals squared off yet again at the continental showpiece, but it was the Nigerians who made short work of their eastern neighbours with a comfortable victory in Abidjan.
The Indomitable Lions had the first attempt, with Moumi Ngamaleu sending an early effort wide inside the box in the third minute.
The Super Eagles then responded with two forays into the Cameroonian defence with reigning African Player of The Year Victor Osimhen stopped by defender Christopher Wooh just outside the penalty area in the fourth minute, while the Napoli striker’s header was comfortably saved by Cameroon keeper Fabrice Ondoa a minute later.
The Eagles then had a goal disallowed in controversial circumstances after defender Semi Ajayi found target in the ninth minute off Ademola Lookman’s corner.
Moroccan referee Redouane Jiyed ruled out the goal for offside after consulting the Video Assistant Referee.
Following the disallowed goal, the Eagles eased off the pressure and Cameroon forward Frank Magri sends a volley from just inside the penalty area high into the stands after 16 minutes.
The Eagles, however, broke the deadlock in the 36th minute after Osimhen displayed strength and alertness to win possession off Lions defender Oumar Gonzalez just outside the penalty area, then picked out Ademola Lookman with a diagonal pass to the right of the penalty area and the Atalanta winger’s shot squeezed in through Ondoa’s gloves to give Nigeria the lead.
The Eagles didn’t relent and piled on the pressure on their bitter rivals, with Ondoa coming out early twice to prevent the rampaging Osimhen from wreaking havoc.
Stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong was alert to deny the Cameroonians in the 59th minute after André-Frank Zambo Anguissa found Karl Toko-Ekambi inside the box.
Osimhen won a foul right on the edge of the box a minute later but Lookman blew his effort wide.
Impressive goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali, who was virtually on holidays asked to be replaced in the 80th minute after a collision with Cameroon winger Georges-Kévin N’Koudou, with erstwhile first choice Francis Uzoho coming on for his first game of the tournament.
Veteran striker Vincent Aboubakar, 32, came on for defender Gonzalez as Cameroon switched to a more attacking formation.
But it was the Eagles who scored instead, with Lookman grabbing his second of the night just before the 90th minute mark. The move started with a quickly worked free-kick on the left, from which Alex Iwobi sent Calvin Bassey clear inside the box.
Bassey found Lookman and the winger’s measured finish hit target once again through Ondoa’s fingers on a night to forget for the Cameroon goalkeeper.
Osimhen almost made it 3-0 in the fourth minute of added time after defender Jean-Charles Castelletto made mess of Ola Aina’s cross, but the centre-back recovered to avert danger.
With one minute left to play, Moses Simon and Osimhen made way for Bright Osayi-Samuel and Paul Onuachu respectively.
This result gives the Eagles the edge over the Indomitable Lions as they claimed their fourth AFCON win in eight meetings, while Cameroon have three victories, with one game drawn.
The Eagles finished second in Group A behind Equatorial Guinea, who they drew 1-1 with on the opening day. They beat the hosts Elephants of Ivory Coast 1-0 then edged the Wild Dogs of Guinea-Bissau by the same scoreline in the final group game.
The victory against the Lions on Saturday firmly placed the Eagles as the kings of the jungle after slaying yet another dangerous foe.