While Nigeria was vying for the top spot of group L, in the qualifying round after accruing 8 points in their opening first four matches in the qualifying round with a single point advantage against the second place Benin, which is the opposing team for the group fifth game.
Prior to the game, the Super eagles was looking to cement their qualifying spots with a win right after Sierra Leone and Lesotho had played goalless draws in early kick off to the match, all but to confirm the qualification of Nigeria’s super eagle.
Gallantly, Nigerian were waiting to secure the top spot in the group and a win against Benin would secure that, but the three times champions of Africa were made to work for their money after the Genk attacker found the back of the nets at the very late minute of the game for the super eagle to win the match with a lone goal.
Moreover, prior to the kick-off, both teams were on course to qualify for the African cup of nation which is set to be hosted in 2022 in Cameroon, as the top spot is on the line while only one point separated the two sides with two more matches to play.
Although, Nigeria was tacitly favored to win the match with 2.27 odds while they are yet to lose on the road in their previous five matches while winning three and having to draw two of them. But the Squirrel was
odd to win the super eagle at the Stade Charles de Gaulle with 3.71
Furthermore, the 2013 African cup of nation champions have the advantage to them going to the match as the super eagle have been victorious on 12 occasions in their previous 15 encounters, while they lost once and drew twice.
Paul Onuachu’s last minute goal helped the Super Eagle end Benin’s unbeaten home run since 2013 with a 1-0 victory in their second to the last Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday.
Although, the defeat dealt a blow to the Squirrels’ qualification hopes as they now need to avoid defeat against third-placed Sierra Leone but their fate is sure in their hand while they must find a way stay unbeaten for the last game to book their spot in the next edition of the African Nations Cup in Cameroon come 2022.
The game was tensed as the encounter between the Nigeria’s Super Eagle and the Squirrel of Benin Republic as the began with Gernot Rohr boys showing intent of topping the group with which the eagles start off the pressure just immediately after the game began with Nigeria charging forward from the left flank of the field through Alex Iwobi forcing the goalkeeper to make a vital tip off the crossbar.
More also, the Squirrel last home defeat dated back in 2013, when the Benin conceded defeat against Algeria in the 2014 World Cup qualifying match. The squirrel lost against Super eagle is their second defeat in the Republic in eight years while the Genk striker, Onuachu had just netted his second goal in his two-year bow for the Super Eagle since his debut.
However, Gernot Rohr’s side had to wait until last minute to beat Dijon’s Beninoise goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe who was impressive in the match throughout while he denied the Nigeria side on countless occasions before Onauchu’s header seal the tie for the Super Eagle.
The 2013 African champion created the most chances in the first half but could not just find the back of the net, while Ola Aina played a fine cross to Henry Onyekuru who controlled the ball with a pass for Kelechi Iheanacho but the Leicester City star was so unlucky with his attempt.
Right after the Leicester City’s forward, Kelechi Iheanacho had misplaced his attempt, the Portuguese Porto’s Zaidu Sanusi drifted past Youssouf Assogba in some minutes later to put in a cross for Onyekuru whose shot was well parried by the Squirrel’s goalkeeper, Allagbe across the bar.
More so, the defensive structure of the Super Eagle was much of a spectator than an actual player throughout the game as the attacking trident of the Benin Republic team were less dominant, while the Squirrel striker Steve Mounie struggled to break the Super Eagles defence as the attacking quartet of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, Onyekuru and Iheanacho battled to give Nigeria the lead in the opening 45 minutes.
Moreover, the match stats were largely in favor of the Super Eagle except for Nigeria to take the lead which was deservedly earned in the second part of the match.
More like the first half, as Nigeria started on a promising note with Chukwueze close to finding the the first goal of the match with a close-range effort and Four minutes later, the Benin’s team got some chances with which Mounie got two chances within a minute to put Michel Dussuyer’s side ahead in the tie but Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was in perfect tone to ensure that the score line remain nil-nil.
After the Mouine squandered chances, Osmhen on the other part of the field fired in a right-footed shot which hit the post as Sanusi could not find the target with the rebound.
The game began to be more open as Benin continued with their crosses and Mounie, in the 62nd minute, made a great leap to connect with Assogba’s cross but his header was put out of danger by the Nigeria goalkeeper.
As the game becomes more open, more chances were conceded by both side but it turned out that the Nigeria’s coach and German manager actually prepared for a nervy finish to the game with Iwuala close to scoring on his international debut after Osimhen nearly scored a late winner for Nigeria but his effort was saved by Allagbe.
However, as the game became more nervous, Nigeria was more dominant looking to extend their lead on the table to four point in which eventually materialize at the stoppage time of the game through the Belgian’s Genk striker, Paul Onuachu’s header after the goalkeeper had parried the Victor Osimhen close range short from an uncleared corner.
Nigeria’s Super Eagle remained Group L leaders with 11 points from five games, while winning three and two draws in the process. Also, Benin sits second with seven points and three points clear of Sierra Leone who follow in third spot with four points and Lesotho sitting at the fourth place of the group.
The victory at the Stade Charles de Gaulle for the super eagle, secure their spot as the group champion and will be looking to extend they’re against Lesotho in their last group match.