Super Eagles Secure AFCON Qualification With Benin Republic Win

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Nigeria are through to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations – but Group L rivals Benin will have to wait after conceding an injury time goal to the Super Eagles and losing 1-0 in Porto Novo.

Nigeria had already been confirmed as having qualified for the tournament in Cameroon next year thanks to a 0-0 draw between Lesotho and Sierra Leone earlier in the day.

That result also meant Benin only needed a point from the game at home against Nigeria, and they held out for 93 minutes – until Paul Onuachu scrambled in Nigeria’s winner deep into injury time.

The Benin players looked completely shocked as the final whistle blew just moments later.

The result means that Sierra Leone now take on Benin in Freetown on Tuesday knowing that if they win, they will match Benin on points. If that happens, their head-to-head record will be equal at that point – both having won a game each – so they will be separated on goal difference.

Nigeria will finish top of the group even if they lose to Lesotho on Tuesday.

In Porto Novo, it was a game of two halves with Nigeria dominating the opening half while Benin’s Squirrels had more chances in the second period, though none of the efforts could bear a goal.

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The Super Eagles perhaps charged with the pre-match news that they were already qualified for Cameroon even before they took to the pitch against Benin, started the match strongly and ended the half with the most scoring chances.

As early as the fifth minute, the Nigerians were already causing their hosts jitters when Victor Osimhen struck a shot wide across the face of goal when he was sent through by Henry Onyekuru.

Two minutes later, Benin keeper Saturnin Allagbe made a brilliant one handed save to tip over a snap shot from Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Nigerians continued dominating and Osimhen once again had a chance in the 24th minute. However, the lanky Napoli striker took a hurried shot that was easily saved when a good interchange of passes released him into the box.

On the other end, Okoyo made a good save in the 63rd minute when he went down to his left to pluck out a header from Mounie who had risen to connect to a Youssouf Amouda cross.The final 25 minutes of the game were a see saw affair between the two sides.

It was Nigeria who would come alive in the final minutes and their late pressure bore fruit when Onuachu headed home after keeper Allagbe had saved Osimhen’s effort with his feet.

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