Ademola Lookman's heroics send Nigeria soaring into AFCON 2023 semi-finals

Ademola Lookman’s first half strike booked Nigeria’s place in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-finals with a 1-0 win over Angola.

The win continues the Super Eagles’ excellent AFCON quarter-final record, having lost only one of their previous 11 last-eight ties in the competition.

Angola’s Black Sable Antelopes had already upset the odds by reaching the last-eight of the AFCON for the first time since 2010, and they gave the Super Eagles a huge scare in the opening exchanges when Gilberto flicked on Fredy’s corner into the path of Mabululu, who Stanley Nwabali brilliantly denied.

Whether that strike would have stood was doubtful though as TV replays would show that Mabululu was in an offside position. But that woke the Nigerians up from their slumber as the Super Eagles worked their way into the contest.

First, Victor Osimhen headed over from Frank Onyeka’s delivery. The Napoli striker had another sight of goal with Moses Simon the provider on this occasion, but his header went straight into goalkeeper Antonio Dominique’s hands.

Osimhen was proving to be more than a handful for the Angolans, but it was Lookman who broke the deadlock for the Super Eagles at the end of a devastating break.

Super Eagles Ademola Lookman Goal

Super Eagles players celebrate with Ademola Lookman after the forward put Nigeria ahead against Angola. Photo: AFP

Simon easily went past Kialonda Gaspar and teed up Lookman to smash the ball home with a clinical first-time left-footed finish.

The Super Eagles looked to tighten their grip on the contest after the break, and had chances to extend their lead but it was the Angolans who came within inches of leveling the tie after substitute Zini rattled the Nigerian post with a close-range strike.

That woke the Nigerians up from their slumber and Osimhen looked to have finally etched his name on the scoresheet after heading home from Lookman’s free-kick. Still, VAR disallowed the effort following a marginal offside call.

Nevertheless, the Super Eagles did enough to overcome a plucky Angolan side that will exit AFCON with their heads held high after falling short in their aim to secure a first-ever semi-final appearance.

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles’s quest to win a fourth AFCON title will continue in a semi-final clash against the winners of Saturday’s match-up between Cape Verde and South Africa in Bouaké.

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