TELL ME MORE
Victor Osimhen saw the game’s first real chance when he found himself in a good position but he failed to hit the target. Ivory Coast responded with a promising attack of their own but Stanley Nwabili pulled off a decent save. It was end to end stuff as Samuel Chukwueze went up the other end right away but his low effort was saved, too.
Ivory Coast had another strong chance in the 15th minute when Christian Kouame played the ball back to Evan Ndicka in a good position in the box but Nwabili denied him.
Nigeria got off to a strong start in the second half and their persistence paid off when Ousmane Diomande kicked Osimhen in the back of the leg as both challenged for the ball, giving away a penalty in the process. It was defender William Troost-Ekong who stepped up to take it and he made no mistake in converting, rifling a powerful shot straight down the middle.
Just as in the first-half, Ivory Coast had plenty of the ball throughout the second but were nowhere near as imposing with it as they struggled to create clear chances. The hosts’ lack of creativity proved costly as they fell to a narrow defeat which leaves them third in Group A.
Nigeria goalkeeper Nwabili pulled off three important saves in the first 45 minutes to keep his team in the match and was strong in the second, too, rushing out in a daring decision to kill off an Ivory Coast attack and protect his team’s lead. An impressive display from the 27-year-old.
Given Nigeria had a hard time getting into dangerous positions before taking the lead, Diomande may feel his tackle on Osimhen cost his team the game. He caught the back of the striker’s leg as he looked to win the ball and it provided Nigeria the chance to get the all-important goal.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Tournament hosts Ivory Coast will round off the group stage with a game against leaders Equatorial Guinea on January 22, when Nigeria also take on a Guinea-Bissau team sitting bottom of the table with two defeats.