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Iheanacho buries the Pharoahs in Garoua

Kelechi Iheanacho’s strike on the half-hour mark led Nigeria to a 1-0 victory over Egypt to put the Super Eagles top of Group D on Tuesday at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. The Leicester City collected a headed pass from Joe Aribo, turning and blasting his shot into the top corner to cap off a dominant performance by the Nigerian side. Egyptian supporters will be very disappointed with how their team looked and manager Carlos Queiroz will have plenty of questions to answer for a disorganized effort.

The match’s opening 25 minutes did not have much to offer as both teams struggled to find their rhythm on the ball.  Nigeria looked more motivated and prepared for the occasion, making it unsurprising when the first chance fell to Moses Simon. However, the Nantes player shot into the side netting following a feed from Aribo. A few minutes later the magical moment came in the 30th minute when a cross was cleared to the edge of the Egyptian penalty area, where Aribo nodded the ball over to Iheanacho. The Leicester City forward only needed one touch to settle before driving his shot past Egypt keeper Mohamed El Shenawy.

Egypt hardly threatened throughout the match and almost went down two goals soon after halftime. Nigeria and Torino full back Ola Aina did brilliantly to track down a ball that was heading out of play on the right wing and managed to get a cross to the near post. Taiwo Awoniyi was there to get a head to the ball at the near post and El Shenawy got his hand up just in time to paw the ball off the crossbar and back into his hands.

Mohamed Salah was smothered by the Nigerian defense all times he received the ball and there was little support for the Liverpool superstar from his attacking teammates. Salah finally got a chance in the 71st minute when he got in behind the back line, but was thrown off by a slight touch from Nigeria center back William Troost-Ekong and failed to get a clean strike on the ball.

Nigeria were unlucky not to have won by more in the end. Substitute Chidera Ejuke was able to showcase his lightning pace and dribbling on the right flank, drawing two saves from El Shenawy in the game’s final fifteen minutes. Egypt failed to threaten much even after bringing in attacking substitutes Ahmed Sayed “Zizo” and Ramadan Sobhi as Nigeria held them off easily for a momentum boosting victory.

Highlights of the match are below. Egypt will face Guinea-Bissau next while Nigeria take on Sudan.

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