Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong scored from the penalty to give Nigeria a vital 1-0 win over hosts Ivory Coast in Group A at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the Stade Alassane Ouattara on Thursday.
The win means that Nigeria recorded their first meeting of the sides at the AFCON since a quarter-final in 2013, the year they last lifted the trophy.
The win moves Nigeria to second position in Group A, with just one goal difference behind Equatorial Guinea who defeated Guinea-Bissau 4-2 in the early fixtures played on Thursday.
Troost-Ekong converted a penalty in the 55th minute of play after a foul on Victor Osimhen was picked up following a VAR review.
Osimhen was caught late by Ousmane Diomande in the Ivorians’ area which prompted a VAR review and the award of a spot-kick. Captain William Troost-Ekong stepped up to slam home from 18 yards.
The Super Eagles then held on in front of a frenzied crowd to claim their first win in Group A after beginning their AFCON bid with a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea.
Nigeria then held on through nine added minutes to win the first meeting of the sides at the AFCON since a quarter-final in 2013, the year they last lifted the trophy.
The Elephants pushed hard for an equaliser but the Super Eagles solid defence countered the home threats with over 49,517 fans in attendance.
Troost-Ekong’s second-half penalty was enough to earn the Super Eagles’ first win of the campaign, which puts them alongside Equatorial Guinea at the top of the group before the final round of games.
The fact that the four best third-placed sides in the six groups will all advance to the last 16 leaves a margin for error, but Ivory Coast must now beat Equatorial Guinea in their last match on Monday to guarantee progress.
Meanwhile, Nigeria must avoid defeat against Guinea-Bissau on Monday to ensure a top-two finish in Group A.