Nigeria 2-1 South Africa
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
Nigeria reached the semi finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations following a hard fought 2-1 victory over South Africa on Wednesday.
The Super Eagles took a half time lead through Samuel Chukweuze but conceded in the second half via a Bongani Zungu header before winning it in the last minute of normal time. Defender Troost-Ekong scores the winning goal on the night.
With a semi final spot on the line, both sides started cautiously, trying to avoid taking any sort of risks.
It was South Africa who dominated the early proceedings but were failing to create anything meaningful in the final third.
Midway through the opening half, Nigeria started to grow into the game, asserting themselves onto proceedings.
They were eventually rewarded on 27 minutes as they took the lead through Samuel Chukwueze. After a brilliant run down the left, Alex Iwobi cut the ball back for the young star who slotted in at the near post on the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked.
Bafana Bafana tried to find an immediate response but looked suspect at the back, to Ahmed Musa’s pace down the left as the winger continuously found himself with ground to run into.
Chukweuze who was a menace of sorts for the South African defence made space for himself on 42 minutes as he dribbled his way into the area but as he tried to apply the telling touch, Dean Furman slid in and made a late tackle that saved the day.
South Africa had a chance to level matters at the stroke of half time but Lebo Mothiba sent his free kick into the wall after Pacy Tau was fouled just outside the box by the industrious Etebo.
By half time, South Africa were looking a shadow of the side that eliminated Egypt in the round of 16 but Nigeria were happy to go into the interval with the 1-0 lead.
Four minutes into the second half, Etebo had a free kick tipped onto the cross bar by Ronwen Williams before South Africa cleared their lines.
Chukwueze continued tormenting Stuart Baxter’s side and on 57 minutes, he beat his man down the right and sent in a low cross which eluded everyone before it went over for just a goal kick.
As the game wore in, Bafana Bafana started finding spaces to move into but were lacking in their final ball.
South Africa eventually equalized with 20 minutes of normal time to play as Tau sent a free kick into the box, deflected off Odion Ighalo’s back before Zungu headed it into the top corner. Initially, the goal was ruled out for offside but after a VAR check, it was awarded.
As the game neared its end in, both sides opened up to try and execute the kill.
First, Iwobi sent a left footed strike over before Tau shot tamely at goal at the other end.
A minute to the 90, Troost-Ekong won it for the Super Eagles. The big center-back connected neatly with Simon Moses’s corner after Williams failed to fist the ball away.
In the end, Nigeria held on to register a victory that sees them march onto the semi finals.
For South Africa, it is the end of the road and will have to wait a while longer for a second AFCON triumph. Their only win came at the 1996 edition and are yet to taste victory once again.
The other game played on Wednesday
-Senegal 1-0 Benin
-Ivory Coast vs Algeria @7pm
-Madagascar vs Tunisia @10pm