Nigeria continued their perfect start to the African Cup of Nations with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sudan.
The Super Eagles were in front after three minutes when Moses Simon laid the ball off for Samuel Chukwueze to slot home.
A farcical goal doubled the score just before half-time when Kelechi Iheanacho's free kick was flicked on by William Troost-Ekong, rebounded off the head of Salaheldin Nemer and then the face of Taiwo Awoniyi before sneaking under goalkeeper Ali Abu-Eshrain.
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Straight after the break any chance for Sudan was gone when, after a long passing move, Simon raced into the box and smashed low into the net.
Sudan were let back into the game when the referee, after consultation with VAR, gave a penalty for a tug on Mustafa Mohammed's shirt from Ola Aina and Walieldin Khidir sent keeper Maduka Okoye the wrong way from the spot.
Nigeria are top of Group D with six points, Sudan are in third for now with one point from two games.

TALKING POINT - Super Eagles engine room makes them a tough beat

There are teams with better strike forces and defences than Nigeria but the balance in midfield will make it hard for any side to beat them. Wilfried Ndiidi and Joe Aribo have quickly formed a fantastic partnership in midfield which will make it very tough for any team to play through them.
While the situation on the right flank is fluid, and enhanced by Kelechi Iheanacho drifting into these areas, they look to build mostly on the left flank with Simon's creativity aided by the more attacking full-back Zaidu Sanusi. They are a very cohesive unit and unless teams can find a way to match them in this area, the Super Eagles could well lift the trophy on February 6.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Moses Simon (Nigeria)

Nigeria will face many sterner tests when get into the second round and it looks like the Nantes midfielder will be a key man if they are to progress deep into the tournament. At times although the superior side, the Super Eagles lacked a creative spark but not when Simon was on the ball. He laid the first goal on a plate for Chukwueze and his driving run and emphatic finish ensured the game was over barely after the halfway mark.

Nigeria's forward Moses Simon celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Sudan at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 15, 2022. (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Nigeria: Okoye 6, Aina 6, Troost-Ekong 7, Omeruo 6, Sanusi 7, Ndidi 7, Aribo 7, Chukwueze 6, Simon 8*, Iheanacho 7, Awoniyi 7.
Subs: Iwobi 6, Musa 7, Nwakali 7, Sadiq 6.
Sudan: Ali Abu Eshrein 5, Elfadni 6, Nemer 6, Mustafa 7, Mohamedein 6, Al Rasheed 6, Khidir 7, Abas Omer 6, Hamed 6, Omer 6, Musab Eis 6.
Subs: Mahjoub 6, Nooh 6, Hassouin 6, Hakeem 6, Makki 6.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

3' GOAL FOR NIGERIA! Simon sets up Chukwueze who gives the Super Eagles an early lead.
38' How did that not go in? Aribo crossed to the six-yard box where Awoniyi lunged at the ball hitting the post and then Elfadni managed to clear off the line with Simon lurking.
45+1' GOAL FOR NIGERIA! Iheanacho put in a dangerous cross which Ekong flick-headed on hitting Nemer and then deflecting straight into Awoniyi's head and sneaking through Abu-Eshrein on the line.
46' GOAL FOR NIGERIA! That didn't take long. Simon with the goal. Sudan didn't touch the ball before Nemer just managed to prevent Awoniyi receiving the ball on the edge of the box but only succeeded in playing through Simon who smashes a finish low under the keeper.
68' Referee checking the video for a penalty! There was a shirt pull and a foot stood on by Aina on Mustafa when a corner came in. PENALTY! The referee awards the spot kick and gives Aina a yellow card.
70' GOAL FOR SUDAN! Cool penalty from substitute Al-Gozoli sending the keeper the wrong way.

KEY STAT

  • 6 - The converted penalty ended a run of six competitive games without a goal for Sudan.
  • 104 - Left back Zaidu Sanusi had 104 touches in the game, 21 more than anyone else on the field.
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