Despite being amongst the favourites to leave Cameroon as champions of Africa, neither Nigeria or Egypt were able to gain a foothold early on, with Mostafa Mohamed’s tame strike for the latter being the only major sight of goal inside the opening 30 minutes. What had been a flat start to proceedings was summed up midway through the half, when referee Bakary Gassama halted proceedings to request a change of ball.
In need of a spark from somewhere, the ‘Super Eagles’ stepped up the intensity and found a breakthrough on the half-hour mark, when Kelechi Iheanacho rifled beyond an outstretched Mohammed El Shenawy with a thunderous left-footed strike. Desperate for some respite, a shaky Egypt backline continued to concede chances to a ravenous Nigeria attack, and were arguably fortunate to have only been one down at the break.
Emerging from the break in search of a second goal, Nigeria passed up two golden chances to double their advantage. A close-range Taiwo Awoniyi header was tipped onto the crossbar only by the fingertips of El Shenawy, whilst a heavy Iheanacho touch denied the Leicester City forward a simple tap-in.
Egypt belatedly began to grow in stature as stoppage time loomed, with Mohamed Salah seeing his off-balance effort comfortably smothered by Maduka Okoye. Yet, despite enjoying most of the late possession, Egypt were unable to carve a way past a resilient ‘Super Eagles’ defence. In turn, they drew a blank in an AFCON group game for the first time since 2017, and allowed three-time champions Nigeria take early control of Group E.
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