Nigeria needed two late penalties from cool-as-ice Victor
Moses to defeat Ethiopia 2-0 on Tuesday and set up a quarter-final with
Africa Cup of Nations favourites Ivory Coast at the weekend.
the drama at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace unfolded in an electric
final 10 minutes of a tense, fraught match which was being played
simultaneously with the other Group C game between Burkina Faso and
champions Zambia in Nelspruit.
With 10 minutes remaining Nigeria were facing elimination.
games were level at 0-0 and with Zambia and Nigeria having identical
points and goal records, the former were set to qualify by virtue of a
better disciplinary record in terms of red and yellow cards.
all changed though as Ethiopia defender Alula Girma brought down Moses
after 80 minutes and the Chelsea forward kept his nerve to beat
goalkeeper Sisay Bancha.
A Nigerian counter-attack five minutes later then left Moses in space and bearing down on goal from the left.
rushed from his line to scythe the youngster down and was sent off
after being shown a second yellow card by Moroccan referee Bouchaib Al
He became the second
Ethiopia keeper to be dismissed in the tournament after Jemal Tassew was
red-carded against Zambia and Bancha was off the field by the time
Moses was ready to take the second penalty of the night.
Nigerian again had to hold his nerve while midfielder Addis Hintsa took
a long time to find a goalkeeper's jersey that did not clash with the
rest of his team.
in goal because Ethiopia had already used all three substitutes and the
first time he touched the ball was to pick it out of the back of the
net after Moses scored from the spot.
The first penalty went right, the second left and Nigeria were on their way into the knockout round.
Victory eased the pressure on Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi after two opening draws and he was understandably delighted.
was not aware of what was happening in the other game," Keshi told
reporters. "I was not really aware we were absolutely level but in the
end it did not matter as the Gods smiled on us."
He said Sunday's match against old rivals Ivory Coast would not be like Tuesday's game.
are a different side but we will enjoy playing them," added Keshi. "It
is going to be tough but it will be just as hard for them - there will
be no second chances for either team."
coach Sewnet Bishaw made eight changes from the side beaten 4-0 by
Burkina Faso in their previous game and, even though they only had one
point from the opening two matches, stood a chance of qualifying on
They never looked
like doing so as Nigeria, with Sunday Mba outstanding while midfield
colleague John Obi Mikel was closely marked by two opponents, controlled
the game for long periods.
who led Ethiopia back to the finals for the first time in 31 years,
said: "We are out but we have gained so much experience and we will
build on that for the future.
"We also need more experience. We cannot make the kind of mistakes that led to having two goalkeepers sent off in a tournament."
a low attendance, the fans made a lot of noise while the Ethiopian
supporters displayed a banner saying sorry for their conduct in the
Zambia game last week when they threw missiles on the field.
"We apologise for our behaviour but we love the game," it said.
"They are the best fans in the world," Bishaw added.
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