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Nigerian attack dominates as Super Eagles qualify for Round of 16

Samuel Chukwueze’s early strike set the tone in Nigeria’s comfortable 3-1 victory over Sudan in Saturday’s Group D action at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Taiwo Awoniyi and Moses Simon each added their own tallies on both sides of halftime to put the Super Eagles beyond reach, keeping Nigeria in first place on six points from two games. Sudan will now need a win in their final match against neighbors Egypt to reach the knockout stage.

A simple set piece unlocked the Sudanese defense to put Nigeria up before three minutes elapsed. Ola Aina’s long throw from the right flank just missed a leaping Awoniyi before the ball fell to Simon at the far post. The Nantes winger then laid a pass towards the edge of the penalty area for the streaking Chukwueze to slot home past Sudan keeper Ali Eshrein.

The early goal saw Nigeria ease off the accelerator and allow Sudan to play their way into the match. However, the inexperienced Sudanese side lacked quality in the final third without star attacker Mohamed Abdelrahman and failed to threaten Maduka Okoye in the Nigerian goal. The Falcons attempted to keep the deficit at only one goal heading into halftime, but a stroke of fortune extended Nigeria’s lead in the 45th minute. Kelechi Iheanacho sent a free kick into the box and found center back William Troost-Ekong, whose header ricocheted off a Sudanese defender before bouncing off Awoniyi’s head and into the net.

Following the break, it took less than a minute for Nigeria to make it three. Simon started and finished the sequence from the left wing by chipping a pass towards Awoniyi, who held off a Sudanese defender as the ball bounced off him. Simon continued the run and collected the bouncing ball before sliding his left-footed shot under Eshrein.

Sudan got one goal back in the 70th minute. As a corner kick came into the Nigerian penalty area, Sudanese center back Mustafa Karshoum went down easily after having his shirt tugged by Aina. The Video Assistant Referee intervened and a penalty was awarded, which Walieldin Khidir put away with ease as he sent Okoye the wrong way.

Nigeria held off comfortably for the remainder of the match and are in full flight as they prepare for their group stage closer against Guinea-Bissau. Highlights of the match are below.

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