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Monday Sep 11, 2017. 21:59
Moses Okoro and Moses Peter scored a goal apiece in the final five minutes of the tie to hand Nigeria a 2-0 win over Sierra Leone in a Last 16 match during the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Monday, September 11.
Sierra Leone dominated the opening exchanges and almost took the lead three minutes in when Donald Wellington drove behind the defence, but failed to beat the Nigerian keeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, in a one-on-one situation.
Ten minutes later Donald Wellington was at it again when he met a low free-kick from the right, but again he was thwarted by the Super Eagles shot-stopper.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa was certainly at his best for Nigeria between the sticks with yet another close range save to deny Nathaniel Tongo Vula in the 15th minute when he broke behind the defence.
The Super Eagles’ first real attempt on goal only came in the 22nd minute, but Samuel Mathias fired his powerful shot inches over from 25-yards out.
Ten minutes later Sierra Leone’s Lahai Coker tried his luck from long range, but his stinging shot was well-saved by Ikechukwu Ezenwa who was keeping Nigeria in the game.
Neither side could break the deadlock before half time as the teams entered the tunnel locked at 0-0.
Five minutes into the second half Donald Wellington should have given Sierra Leone the lead when he found himself unmarked and in space 14-yards out, but he fired hopelessly wide.
Nigeria took control of the match after that and came close to scoring in the 55th minute when Uche Akas drove into the box from the left flank, but his thunderous 12-yard shot struck the side-netting.
Six minutes later Uche Akas drove into the box again and while his shot was on target this time, the Sierra Leone keeper was on hand to make a spectacular fingertip save to deny him.
In the 76th minute Amadu Barrie was gifted a golden opportunity to give the Leone Stars the lead when he broke through on goal, but with all the time in the world and just the keeper to beat, he failed to do so after shooting straight at Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Three minutes later the action was at the other end of the park when Rabiu Ali let fly with a pile-driver from the edge of the box, but the Sierra Leone keeper made a good one-handed save turn the ball around post.
In the 85th minute Moses Okoro won the game for Nigeria with the goal of the tournament thus far after curling a 22-yard free-kick into the top left corner, 1-0.
The icing on the cake for the Super Eagles was their second goal two minutes later when Moses Peter made it 2-0.
Kone brace steals victory for Mali at death
Mali started the better of the two teams and almost took the lead as early as the seventh minute, but Amara Malle saw his stinging volley from the edge of the box brilliantly saved by the Mauritania keeper.
The Eagles continued to push forward and were rewarded for their efforts on the half hour with the game’s first goal.
Mandala Konte opened the scoring after latching onto a 20-yard shot from Mohamed Traore which bounced off the crossbar and into his path – and he made no mistake as he tapped the ball over the line from close range, 1-0.
Mauritania , though, were not going to go down without a fight and hit-back six minutes later when a corner was headed into the path of Samba Cheikh who volleyed home with clinical precision from six-yards out, 1-1.
Mali finished the half the stronger side and almost re-took the lead in the dying seconds of the stanza when a 22-yard thunderbolt from Oumar Kida skimmed the wrong side of the upright.
Five minutes into the second half Moussa Kone should have scored the Eagles second goal when Mandala Konte slipped him through on goal, but he fired wide from six-yards out with just the keeper to beat.
They game fell into a bit of a lull after that with neither side really able to muster any decent goal scoring chances and the match looked to be heading for the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
That was until Moussa Kone stepped up for Mali and handed them victory with two goals in three minutes in the dying stages of the match.
First, in the 88th minute Kone pounced on a loose ball inside the Mauritania box following a goalmouth scramble and fired home from close range, 2-1.
The cherry on top was his second goal and his country’s third in the 91st minute when he broke behind the defence and made no mistake with just the keeper to beat, 3-1.