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Atal strike condemns Super Eagles to defeat amid shambolic officiating

Nigeria’s Super Eagles fell to their Algerian counterparts by two goals to one in their friendly encounter in Oran. The home side secured an impressive win over the Nigerians to end the international break on a high.

With both sides having missed out on a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, they faced each other in a friendly. The Super Eagles had faced Algeria’s B-team in a test match only days earlier while the Algerian team faced Guinea.

The Super Eagles opened the scoring very early in the game as the in-form Terem Moffi made it three goals in his last two games for the national team. The FC Lorient striker was the quickest to react to a loose ball in the Algerian penalty area after a shot from Kelechi Iheanacho had been charged down.

The Algerians quickly raised their game and provided dangerous moments through their attacking trio of Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Youcef Belaili. The new-look centre-back pairing of Kevin Akpoguma and Calvin Bassey managed to keep the Desert Foxes at bay.

The visitors thought they had doubled their advantage after Terem Moffi set up Ademola Lookman to tap the ball home but the referee disallowed the goal for a shady offside call. This would prove to be a turning point in the match as the first half was gradually winding down.

Another dubious freekick decision on the edge of the Nigerian box resulted in a shot from Slimani which came back off the base of the post before Ramy Bensebaini blazed his effort over the bar from close range. In his attempt to block the shot, Frank Onyeka made contact with Bensebaini after his shot, leading to the referee pointing to the spot. Not one to pass up an opportunity, Algeria captain Mahrez made no mistake from the spot to draw his side level in the 41st minute.

The Algerians emerged for the second half more energized and put the Super Eagles defenders under pressure. They eventually found the net in stunning style as Youcef Atal struck the ball from 30-odd yards into the back of the net in the 61st minute.

The Nigerian side struggled for rhythm and failed to create any meaningful openings as the Algerians held on for a 2-1 win at home.

The defeat in Algeria means Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro has now failed to win any of his four friendly matches in charge of the side, losing three and drawing one. The Super Eagles will return to action in November when they face Portugal in a friendly before the World Cup.

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