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Ivory Coast 1-2 Nigeria

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Emenike: Netted the first goal

Emenike: Netted the first goal

A fortuitous strike by Sunday Mba gave Nigeria a historic win against Ivory Coast and a place in the semi-finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

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Striker Emmanuel Emenike scored his third goal of the tournament in the 43rd minute to give the Super Eagles the lead. The Ivorians hit back after the break with a Cheick Tiote goal in the 50th minute but Mba knocked the tournament favourites out of the competition in the 78th minute.

There was little separating the two African giants and both relied on their speedy front men for penetration.

Nigeria's Victor Moses, Emenike and Mba troubled Emmanuel Eboue's backline while the Ivorian's Solomon Kalou and Gervinho made life difficult for Vincent Enyeama and his back-four.

With Yaya Toure bossing the midfield for the Elephants and John Obi Mikel doing the same for the Super Eagles, the midfield was crowded and they relied heavily on the wingers to go forward.

Toure's lack of pace was evident as he cynically fouled Moses after the Chelsea player flew past him. Minutes after that Toure was brought down and free-kicks became a prominent characteristic in the first half.

Both sides looked dangerous at set-pieces but hardly came close to scoring, until the 43rd minute.

From 30 yards out Mikel touched the ball to Emenike who struck the ball superbly; the resultant rocket bulging the net as goalkeeper Boubacar Barry seemed to comically avoid it.

Immediately after the break the Elephants went on the attack and Eboue's slalom run from the big box set Kalou free in the Nigerian 18-yard area. A harmless looking tackle from Efe Ambrose brought Kalou down and the referee opted to give the latter a yellow card for diving.

Ivory Coast's star striker Didier Drogba, who hardly featured in the first half except for one attempt at goal, provided the pass for the equaliser. Another free kick, this time from the left flank, found the head of Tiote who was unmarked at the far post and the diminutive striker had the simplest task of nodding the ball home.

The Elephants upped their attacking prowess and so did the Super Eagles, with Gervinho and Moses respectively taking the lead upfront as they looked for a winner.

Toure went close with a vicious strike that Enyeama palmed away, and while the rebound fell to Gervinho, he could do little from an acute angle.

The glory though would not belong to the most prominent players as Mba took the responsibility of securing the semi-final berth. The striker went on a superb solo run evading three players and although his strike took a deflection off an Ivorian defender, the result was magnificent as the ball hit the back of the net.

Nigeria resorted to time wasting tactics as the Elephants flurried forward and Lacina Traore wasted a glorious chance when the ball fell at his feet in the small box.

Posted: 03/02/13 17:15

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