In an exhilarating match at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia, Victor Osimhen’s superb performance led the Super Eagles to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Sierra Leone, guaranteeing Nigeria’s qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a game to spare.
Osimhen, the standout player of the match, netted two goals in the first half. However, Sierra Leone staged a spirited comeback in the second half before Kelechi Iheanacho, who came off the bench, sealed the win for Nigeria. Head coach Jose Peseiro handed goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye his Super Eagles debut, but most of the early action took place in Sierra Leone’s half of the pitch.
Osimhen came close to scoring within the first 15 minutes, connecting with a well-delivered cross from Moses Simon, only to be denied by a brilliant save from goalkeeper Ibrahim Sesay. However, shortly after, Osimhen broke the deadlock, providing an early advantage to the Super Eagles. The Napoli striker expertly placed his finish over the goalkeeper after latching onto an Omeruo-headed clearance.
Nigeria had a chance to double their lead before the half-hour mark, with Osimhen once again involved. He outmaneuvered two Sierra Leone defenders before delivering a square pass to Chukwueze, whose firm shot was saved impressively by Sesay.
Nevertheless, Osimhen found the back of the net in the 32nd minute, doubling Nigeria’s lead with his second goal of the match. With his two goals, Osimhen now tops the AFCON qualification goals chart with seven strikes, surpassing Senegal’s Sadio Mane, who has scored five goals. The Scudetto winner has also reached a milestone of 17 international goals, surpassing the records of Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa, and joining Samson Siasia in joint-sixth position on Nigeria’s all-time scoring chart.
Sierra Leone managed to reduce the deficit four minutes before halftime, as Mustapha Bundu capitalized on a through-ball to beat Adeleye and score for the Leone Stars. Wilfred Ndidi had a chance to extend Nigeria’s lead, but his shot flew wide over the post.
The second half saw Sierra Leone pressuring Nigeria, but Osimhen and Simon remained threats on the counter-attack. Sierra Leone came close to equalizing, but Adeleye made crucial saves to deny their efforts.
In the dying minutes of the game, Bundu unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box, finding the bottom left corner and equalizing for Sierra Leone. However, it was Iheanacho who had the last say, slotting home Nigeria’s winning goal with the final kick of the match, courtesy of a Zaidu Sanusi cross.
With this victory, the Super Eagles reclaim the top spot in Group A with 12 points from five games, securing their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Despite having one more match to play at home against Sao Tome and Principe, the three-time African champions can approach it with the knowledge that their qualification is already secured.
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