Lookman Fires Nigeria Into Afcon Semi-Finals

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A first-half goal from Ademola Lookman was enough to help Nigeria overcome Angola and reach the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The former England Under-21 winger emphatically converted a cut-back from Moses Simon four minutes before the break in Abidjan.

The 1-0 scoreline flattered Angola, who were second best for long periods of the game, and Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen had a 75th-minute header ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee (VAR).

Angola’s best chance fell to Zine, who rolled the ball against the base of the post when clean through on goal just before the hour mark.

Nigeria will now face the winner of Saturday’s quarter-final between Cape Verde and South Africa (20:00 GMT) in the last four next Wednesday.

If possible, the humidity inside the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium appeared to have gone up another notch from previous games at the finals but both sets of players gave their all despite the conditions to entertain what ended up being a near-capacity crowd.

Angola carved out the first chance of the game, as Super Eagles goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali tipped Mabululu’s effort away following Gilberto’s flick-on from a corner.

But the Palancas Negras showed little intention of over-attacking in the first period, preferring to sit deep and soak up pressure before launching counter-attacks.

The tactic worked well to limit their opponents until just before half-time, when Simon was the architect of Lookman’s goal.

The Nantes man timed his run well to win the ball ahead of the sliding Kialonda Gaspar and surged down the left flank before showing a cool head to look up and pick out his fellow winger’s late run into the area.

Lookman, who now has three goals in the knockout stage, applied the calm side-footed finish.

Osimhen denied goal as Super Eagles progress

Bar the goal, the first period was largely uninspiring, but things perked up after half-time as both teams showed more intent.

Zaidu Sanusi blazed wide after more good wing play from Lookman before Calvin Bassey wasted a header from six yards out after Nigeria worked the ball back into the box following a cleared corner.

Angola should have equalised when an excellent through ball from Show played Zine in behind the resolute Nigeria defence, which has now kept four successive clean sheets.

But the half-time substitute could only strike the right-hand post with his effort, leaving many of his team-mates with their heads in their hands.

African footballer of the year Osimhen thought he had sealed the win with his header from Lookman’s free-kick, only for VAR to intervene after a prolonged check for offside which caught many in the stadium by surprise.

Minutes later, Angola centre-back Gaspar also denied the Napoli striker with a fantastic last-ditch tackle.

Zito Luvumbo had a late shot palmed away by Nwabali and the three-time Nations Cup winners saw out seven minutes of added time to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the 15th time in their past 18 appearances.

Angola, ranked 117th in the world, had surprisingly won their group ahead of 2019 champions Algeria and Burkina Faso, but their wait for a first appearance in the last four goes on.

Source: BBC

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