Ademola Lookman’s strike booked Nigeria’s place in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-finals with a 1-0 win over Angola, continuing their excellent quarter-final record, having lost only one of their previous 11 last-eight ties in the competition.
The Black Sable Antelopes had already upset the odds by reaching the last eight of this tournament for the first time since 2010, and they gave their illustrious opponents a huge scare in the opening exchanges when Gilberto flicked on Fredy’s corner into the path of Mabululu, who was brilliantly denied by Stanley Nwabili.
Nigeria were working their way into the contest, as marksman Victor Osimhen headed over from Frank Onyeka’s delivery.
Osimhen had another sight of goal with Moses Simon the provider on this occasion, but the SSC Napoli man’s header went straight into Antonio Dominique’s grateful grasp.
Osimhen was unsurprisingly Nigeria’s biggest threat, but he had yet to find his range after heading wide from Ola Aina’s long throw into the box. However, it was Lookman who broke the deadlock for the Super Eagles at the end of a devastating break.
Simon effortlessly skipped over Kialonda Gaspar’s challenge and teed up the Atalanta BC forward to smash the ball home with a clinical first-time finish.
Jose Peseiro’s side looked to tighten their grip on the contest after the break, as early chances fell for Alex Iwobi and Zaidu Sanusi against an Angolan team that did not possess the same confidence since Lookman’s opener.
After Calvin Bassey headed another Nigeria attempt over the bar, Angola came within inches of supplying a sucker punch to level the scoreline. Show played in a perfectly weighted pass into the path of substitute Zini, who opened up his body and rattled the post with a close-range strike.
Osimhen looked to have finally etched his name on the scoresheet after heading home from Lookman’s free-kick, but VAR disallowed the effort following a marginal offside call.
Ultimately, it was not to be Osimhen’s night, as he was thwarted by Gaspar, pulling the trigger inside the area in a failed attempt to double Nigeria’s lead.
Nevertheless, the Super Eagles did enough to overcome a plucky Angolan side that will exit AFCON with their heads held high after falling short in their aim to secure a first-ever semi-final appearance. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s quest to win this competition for a fourth time will continue in a last-four clash against the winners of Saturday’s match-up between Cape Verde and South Africa in Bouaké on February 7th.