Ademola Lookman scored twice as Nigeria earned a place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-0 win over Cameroon.
The former Everton, Fulham and Leicester midfielder scored a goal in each half to help secure The Super Eagles’ place in the last-eight.
Cameroon survived an early scare when Semi Ajayi’s effort was chalked off having deemed to be offside by VAR.
In the 36th-minute, Lookman was played through by Victor Osimhen and his shot squeezed through goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, who was chosen ahead of Manchester United’s Andre Onana.
Inspired by the lively Osimhen, Nigeria continued to create chances after the restart as Lookman’s free-kick agonisingly whistled over the bar.
However, an injury to goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili – who did not have a save to make before his departure in the 75th minute – slightly soured the night for Jose Peseiro’s side.
The Golden Boot winner of the 2021 edition, Vincent Aboubakar was introduced for his first appearance of the tournament but with just over 10 minutes of normal time remaining, the Cameroon striker failed to have any influence.
Lookman secured victory with a tidy finish from Calvin Bassey’s cross in stoppage-time and Nigeria can now look forward to a meeting with Angola.
It has been a campaign to forget for five-time winners Cameroon, who crash out without a fight. Having only sneaked through the group stages following a damaging 3-1 loss to Senegal and a desperate comeback victory over Gambia, Rigobert Song’s side were outplayed by a dominant Nigeria.
The Super Eagles were inspired by Osimhen, who had been under pressure to shine after three underwhelming performances in the group stages. While he was unable to add to his solitary goal in the tournament, the African Player of the Year created the opener and asked questions of the opponents’ defence all evening.
Should he replicate this kind of performance further in the tournament, Nigeria will feel they have every chance of winning a fourth AFCON title.
The talisman was excellent all evening, defending from the front, stretching the Cameroon defence with his pace and intelligent movement and, crucially, laying on the assist for the breakthrough goal.
Nigeria: Nwabali 6, Aina 7, Ekong 7, Ajayi 7, Bassey 8, Sanusi 7, Onyeka 7, Iwobi 7, Lookman 8, Simon 6, Osimhen 8*.. subs: Omeruo N/A, Osayi-Samuel N/A, Onuachu N/A
Cameroon: Ondoa 4, Wooh 4, Gonzalez 5, Castelletto 5, Tolo 6, Zambo 5, Ntcham 5, Ngamaleu 5, Nkoudou 5, Magri 7, Toko 5.. subs: Aboubakar N/A, Moumbagna N/A
12’ – GOAL DISALLOWED! Nigeria are ahead – and nobody can say this wasn’t coming! Ondoa comes off his line to punch a Lookman cross, but Cameroon fail to clear their lines. Iwobi delivers another cross and the loose ball falls to Ajayi who slots it home. But was Ajayi in an offside position? The referee is having a look at the monitor and this is going to be chalked off. The goal does not stand – Ajayi was indeed offside. A let off for Cameroon.
36’ – GOAL! NIGERIA 1-0 CAMEROON (ADEMOLA LOOKMAN): Osimhen comes to life and sets up Nigeria’s opener! The Napoli forward pounces on a mistake in the Cameroon defence, looks up and threads it through to Lookman whose shot slips through the grasp of Ondoa and rolls over the line!
55’ – LOOKMAN GOES CLOSE! From the resulting free-kick, taken on the edge of the box in a central position, Lookman whistles the top of the bar with a well-taken effort.
90’ – GOAL! NIGERIA 2-0 CAMEROON (ADEMOLA LOOKMAN): Lookman at the double – and Nigeria secure their place in the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations! The former Everton midfielder makes a run to the near post and slots home a cross to send the Nigeria fans wild!
- For the 16th time, Nigeria have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.