A superb first-half strike from Kelechi Iheanacho secured an important 1-0 win for Nigeria in their crunch clash with Egypt in Garoua on Tuesday.
The clash of the two group favourites had a one-sided feel to it with Nigeria controlling long periods of the game as Egypt struggled to impose themselves.
Nigeria broke the deadlock in superb fashion through Leicester City striker Iheanacho, who found the top corner with his strike from the edge of the area. The goal was nothing more than Nigeria deserved as they piled the pressure on the Pharaohs.
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Among the favourites to win this years competition, Egypt could not get a foothold in the game and rarely troubled Nigeria 'keeper Maduka Okoye who was merely a spectator at times.
Nigeria could have added to their tally but wasted a hatful of opportunities against a disappointing Egypt side containing captain Mohamed Salah. Iheanancho, Taiwo Awoniyi and Chidera Ejuke all went close for the Nigerian's who were denied by the excellent reflexes of Egyptian shot-stopper Mohamed El Shenawi.
Augustine Eguavoen's men comfortably held on for a deserved victory to get their AFCON campaign off to the best possible start.
The result means the Super Eagles sit provisionally top of group D, whilst Carlos Quieroz’s Egypt have it all to do in their final two group games, if they are to qualify from the group.

TALKING POINT

As dominant as Nigeria were, Egypt gave a disappointing account of themselves as their tournament got off to the worst possible start. Carlos Quieroz's men could not even count on their captain Salah for inspiration as the Super Eagles reigned supreme on a hot and humid afternoon in Garoua. Quieroz will hope that Tuesday's display can be put down to a bad day at the office as Egypt's final two group games (against Sudan and Guinea-Bissau) take on greater importance in their quest to qualify from the group. Third favourites to win the competition outright, Egypt will need to regroup quickly if they are to avoid an embarrassing early exit.

Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah reacts during the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 11, 2022. (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO/A

Image credit: Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH

Moses Simon (Nigeria): The Nantes winger was at his very best as he carried his excellent club form into the competition. A constant menace throughout, Simon gave the Egypt back line a torrid time with his pace and trickery and was at the heart of everything positive the Super Eagles tried to do. A superb start to the tournament for the 26-year-old.

PLAYER RATINGS

Nigeria: Okoye 6, Aina 6, Troost-Ekong 6, Omeruo 6, Sanusi 7, Ndidi 7, Aribo 7, Simon 8, Iheanancho 7, Chukwueze 6, Awoniyi 6. Subs: Sadiq 5, Ejuke 6, Ajani n/a Nwakali n/a, Iwobi n/a
Egypt: El Shenawi 7, Tawfik n/a, Hegazy 6, El Wensh 5, El Fotouh 5, Elneny 5, Fathi, 5, Marmoush 5, Trezeguet 5, Salah 5, Mohamed 6. Subs: Abdelmoneim 5, Ashraf 6, Zizo 5, Sobhi 5, Sobhi n/a.
KEY MOMENTS
30' GOAL! NIGERIA 1-0 EGYPT (Iheanancho): A fabulous strike from the edge of the area from Kelechi Iheanacho puts the Super Eagles in front. A cracking goal from the Leicester City man breaks the deadlock.
66' IHEANACHO STRIKES WIDE Leicester City's double act Ndidi and Iheanacho link up nicely but Iheanancho fires off target. He should have tested El Shenawi at the very least.
70' SALAH CHANCE! Right on cue - Mo Salah has a great chance to equalise but his scuffed effort is saved by Okoye. A warning for Nigeria.
90+2 CHANCE FOR NIGERIA A blistering break from Nigeria results in El Shenawi denying Nigeria a second.
90+3 FT: NIGERIA 1-0 EGYPT Iheanacho's first-half goal seals an ideal start for Nigeria, who open group D with a deserved victory.

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