Ghana stunned an expectant crowd in Abuja on Tuesday as Nigeria failed to recover from an early Thomas Partey strike and drew 1-1, a result that was enough for the Black Stars to book their ticket to Qatar 2022 via the away goals rule. The Super Eagles equalized later in the first half with a William Troost-Ekong penalty kick but could not break down the Ghanaian bunker. Ghana returns to the FIFA World Cup after missing out on the 2018 edition while Nigeria fail to qualify for the first time since the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The loud crowd and high anticipation leading up to the match led to a frenetic start as the favored Nigerians attempted to take the game to the visitors. However, after ten minutes it was the Black Stars who found the opening goal to silence the Nigerian support. Ghana left back Gideon Mensah passed inside to Arsenal midfielder Partey, who had room to cut inside and launch a rocket of a low shot on goal. Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho failed to adequately deal with the strike and the ball went through him, nestling into the net to give Ghana a massive away goal.
Relief swept over the home support before the 20th minute mark when winger Ademola Lookman attempted to dribble inside from the left wing and went down under a challenge from Ghana right back Denis Odoi. After a Video Assistant Referee review it was judged that Odoi fouled Lookman and the home fans erupted with joy when a penalty kick was awarded. Center back Troost-Ekong calmly sent Ghana keeper Joe Wollacott the wrong way with an excellent spot kick and the match was all square.
Following the leveler, Ghana mostly held on for dear life as Nigeria launched attack after attack knowing they needed another goal. In the 33rd minute it appeared the Super Eagles had taken the lead when Victor Osimhen blocked an attempted clearance by Wollacott and poked the ball into the empty net, but VAR intervened again to determine that the Napoli striker was offside on the initial pass behind the Ghanaian defense.
Despite having a large majority of the shots, Nigeria failed to generate clear opportunities for the remainder of the match. Osimhen had a couple of acrobatic efforts in the second half but could not threaten Wollacott’s goal. The desperation creeped in for the hosts and Ghana did excellently to frustrate and kill off the match. After Moses Simon curled a free kick high over the bar in second half stoppage time, Ghana held off and the final whistle saw the Nigerian supporters overwhelm security and storm the pitch in anger.
Highlights from Abuja are below.