The Super Eagles of Nigeria sounded out a message of warning to their group counterparts as they defeated the Desert Warriors of Algeria 3-1 in their 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.
Eagles’ technical adviser, Gernot Rohr showed his attacking intent for the game as he started with a frontline that included in-form players like Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Algeria looked a bit shaky as Nigeria controlled proceedings in the early stages, with in-form Chelsea winger, Moses troubling the Algerian defence with his pace and trickery.
The Algerians were largely reduced to limited time on the ball in the midfield area and kept away from Daniel Akpeyi who replaced the injured Eagles’ number one goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme. The goalkeeper was finally called into action when he pushed away a Yacine Brahimi shot in the 23rd minute.
Nigeria’s dominance over the Warriors finally paid off in the 24th minute when Moses latched onto a John Mikel Obi pass and ran at the Algerian defence; he misplaced a pass into the path of Algerian defender Hicham Belkaroui before stealing it back and slotting it coolly past Raïs M’Bolhi to give the Eagles a much deserved lead.
The star was booked for taking off his shirt in jubilation.
The Eagles kept their dominance as shortly after their lead, M’bohli had to come out to punch a Moses cross after the winger had been fouled. Iheanacho almost nodded in another Moses cross in the 29th minute after the Chelsea star played in the Manchester City striker.
Akpeyi had to run out of his box to snuff out the threat of a through ball heading towards his goal and Brahimi picked up the loose ball in his half, did well to skip past a couple of Nigerian defenders and pass to Nabil Bentaleb who wastefully flicked the ball over the net in what was Algeria’s best chance of the game.
Only minutes later, Riyad Mahrez missed another great opportunity for the Algerians.
After a defensive mix up in the Nigerian defence, the ball fell to the Leicester star on the edge of the Nigerian goal and he fired low, inches away from the post in what was a disappointing effort from the midfielder.
The Algerians kept on their momentum and Islam Slimani ran onto another through pass in the Nigerian box, but he was closely followed by the goalkeeper and fired away waywardly.
Shortly after, in the 40th minute, Nigeria got a second goal that deflated the Algerian team.
After some nice passing of the ball near the Algerian box, Nigerian captain, Mikel Obi found himself on the end of an Etebo pass and one-on-one with the goalkeeper after he had been clearly kept onside by Aissa Mandi; after a little hesitation, he fired past the Algerian goalkeeper amid a wave of protests from the Algerian players.
The Algerians had another good go at the Nigerian defence as they started a move that ended with a Mahrez shot being deflected over for a corner which was the last action of the first half with the Eagles in a commanding 2-0 lead.
The second half started with a more motivated Algerian team that relentlessly attacked the Nigerian defence going close twice in the 50th and 52nd minute.
Georges Leekens’ side came close to getting a goal back as Slimani shot well wide of the post after a couple of Algerian players mishit the ball in the box.
Another shot came whizzing past the bar in the 58th minute much to the frustration of the Nigerian goalkeeper.
The Algerians finally got a breakthrough in the 67th minute as Bentalab collected a pass close to the Nigerian box, and with little pressure from the Nigerian defence, fired in a left footed strike that left Akpeyi helpless.
The Algerians had a penalty shout waved away in the 72nd minute, and the referee only awarded a corner kick.
They played with more confidence and kept their assault on the Nigerian defence, coming close again with another angled shot.
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