Africa Cup of Nations day 3: Kelechi Iheanacho fires Nigeria to victory against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt

A low-scoring tournament so far means the first goal has often proven crucial - as it did for the Super Eagles against the Pharaohs

Karl Matchett
Tuesday 11 January 2022 21:27
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Groups D and E took centre stage at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, with Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho netting a vital winner as Nigeria opened their group phase with a win.

The clash between the Super Eagles, runners-up in the 2019 edition of the competition, and Egypt, record seven-time winners of the AFCON, was anticipated as one of the big group-stage clashes and a meeting of two among the favourites to go far this year in Cameroon, but in truth it was largely a one-sided affair.

Nigeria took a deserved lead on the half-hour mark as Iheanacho spun to fire home from just inside the box, and while they had further chances to add to their tally, Egypt simply never came close to posing a regular threat. Mohamed Salah was a peripheral performer for the Pharaohs as they failed to get him involved, leaving their rivals top of Group D after the opening game.

The other two teams in the group, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, drew 0-0 later in the evening.

Earlier in the day, Algeria and Sierra Leone fought out another 0-0 draw. Algeria were heavy favourites and did dominate possession, but failed to find the breakthrough despite chances falling the way of Riyad Mahrez, Yacine Brahimi and sub Baghdad Bounedjah.

On Thursday, Tunisia and Mali start proceedings, with fellow Group F rivals Mauritania and Gambia on show afterwards. Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast are the late fixture, with a win for either sending them top of Group E above Algeria and Sierra Leone, who have a point apiece.

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