The Super Eagles booked their spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday in Monrovia, following a dramatic 3-2 win over Sierra Leone at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.
While star striker Victor Osimhen scored a first-half brace, Sierra Leone fought back through goals by Mustapha Bundu and Augustus Kargbo, with the score being tied at 2-2 until deep into stoppage time.
It took a 95th-minute effort by Kelechi Iheanacho for Nigeria to bag maximum points in Paynesville. As a result, the Super Eagles sealed their place in the upcoming tournament, while Sierra Leone missed out on AFCON qualification.
As the referee blew the whistle for the first-half, Nigeria eased themselves into the tie with accurate build-up play from deep positions. In having more of the ball, the Super Eagles flexed their authority on the tie early on.
Nigeria created a number of goal scoring opportunities during the first 15 minutes of the encounter, with Victor Osimhen proving to be a tricky customer to deal with.
The travelling side’s pressure then paid off soon before the 20th minute mark, as Osimhen got his name on the scoresheet. Played through on goal, Osimhen noticed the on rushing goalkeeper and subsequently lobbed the ball into the back of the net to give the Super Eagles the lead.
Osimhen then scored his second goal of the evening in the 32nd minute, with his right-footed shot from the centre of the box beating Ibrahim Sesay between the sticks.
Despite being in a favourable position, Sierra Leone pulled one back four minutes before the break, as Mustapha Bundu got his name on the scoresheet with a left-footed finish inside the area.
On resumption, the Leone Stars continued to soak up Nigeria’s pressure and looked to catch the visitors on the break.
In a swift move against the run of play, Sierra Leone drew level in the 84th, courtesy of a brilliant individual effort by Augustus Kargbo on the edge of the Nigeria box.
Nonetheless, it was Nigeria who had the last say in the tie with Kelechi Iheanacho scoring the winner in the 93rd minute.
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