Osimhen's brace secures Nigeria's 2023 AFCON berth in thrilling victory

Osimhen's brace secures Nigeria's 2023 AFCON berth in thrilling victory

  • In a pulsating encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, Victor Osimhen's clinical brace propelled the Super Eagles to a 3-2 triumph over Sierra Leone, securing Nigeria's qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a game to spare.

Osimhen, displaying his predatory instincts, struck twice in the first half to give Nigeria an early advantage. However, Sierra Leone mounted a spirited comeback in the second half, only for substitute Kelechi Iheanacho to seal the win with a dramatic late goal.

The Super Eagles started the match brilliantly and should have been ahead even before Osimhen struck the opener.

When the opening goal arrived, it was of top quality. Osimhen capitalised on an Omeruo-headed clearance to deftly place the ball beyond the reach of Ibrahim Sesay in the Sierra Leone goal. 

Nigeria had opportunities to extend their lead, and Osimhen grabbed one of them to notch his second goal of the game in the 32nd minute.

The Napoli striker's brace elevated him to the top of the AFCON qualification goals chart with seven strikes, surpassing Senegal's Sadio Mane, who has scored five. Osimhen's international tally now stands at 17 goals, surpassing Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa, and equalling Samson Siasia's record for the sixth-highest goalscorer in Nigeria's history.

A disallowed effort denied Nigeria a third goal before Mustapha Bundu reduced the deficit for the Leone Stars with a well-placed shot just before halftime.

The second half saw Sierra Leone mounting pressure, testing the Nigerian defence. However, Adeleye made crucial saves to keep the Eagles in the lead.

In the closing stages, the Leone Stars found a breakthrough when Bundu struck again to make it 2-2 with a fierce strike from outside the box.

Yet, with the clock ticking down, substitute Kelechi Iheanacho emerged as the hero, converting Zaidu Sanusi's cross to clinch a dramatic victory for Nigeria.

The win propels the Super Eagles to the top of Group A with 12 points from five games, guaranteeing their place in the 2023 Afcon. 

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