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Iheanacho nets winner, Osimhen nets brace as Super Eagles book AFCON spot

Nigeria overcomes Sierra Leone in Monrovia

Victor Osimhen scored twice for the Super Eagles as they claimed a 3-2 win against Sierra Leone to go through to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with one game to spare.

After seeing Guinea-Bissau defeat Sao Tome & Principe in the group’s other game to go top, the Super Eagles needed a point against the Lone Stars to qualify for the tournament in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria asked the questions from the start of the encounter and Osimhen was thwarted by Sierra Leon’s goalkeeper after he connected a header from a Moses Simon cross.

The Super Eagles took the lead shortly after in the 19th minute through the irrepressible Osimhen. The Napoli man latched onto a headed clearance from captain Kenneth Omeruo before nonchalantly executing a lob over the onrushing goalkeeper for his 16th international goal.

The striker was unstoppable and doubled his and the Super Eagles’ lead in the 32nd minute as he made a timely dart in behind the Lone Stars backline which was found by Joe Aribo, and Osimhen found a way to convert despite the bobbling turf. The goal made the Napoli man Nigeria’s highest-scorer among active players, beating Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo’s 16 goals.

Osimhen nearly turned provider as he played in Samuel Chukwueze, but the Villarreal winger couldn’t finish when faced by just the goalkeeper. The striker once again showed a creative side to his game as he played a square ball across the box to Moses Simon, who managed to miss the goal from point-blank range.

Chukwueze had the ball in the back of the net, too, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Sierra Leone pulled one back four minutes from half-time through Mustafa Bundu, whose run in behind was found by Emmanuel Samadia, allowing him to blast an effort past debutant goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye.

The Super Eagles maintained control in the second half, with Osimhen popping up all over the attacking third but they failed to add another goal.

The Lone Stars grabbed an equaliser in the 84th minute through Augustus Kargbo, who beat Adeleye with a scorching effort that nestled into the bottom of his goal. The forward thought he had stolen a point for his country.

Introduced off the bench for the misfiring Chukwueze, Leicester City ace Kelechi Iheanacho secured the win for the Super Eagles in the 95th minute as he tapped home from close range after brilliant play by Zaidu Sanusi, who provided the assist.

Nigeria return to the top of Group A and have now booked their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire. The Super Eagles will return to action in a dead-rubber game against Sao Tome & Principe in September.

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