The three-time winners trailed momentarily in the encounter but fought back to earn a share of the spoils
Napoli striker Victor Osimhen scored Nigeria’s equaliser as a wasteful Super Eagles battled to a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea in their opening Group A match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Soccernet.ng reports.
Iban Salvador gave the National Thunder the lead in the 36th, but Osimhen struck the equaliser for Nigeria moments later as both teams failed to find the winning goal later on.
How it happened
Coach Jose Peseiro handed AFCON debuts to goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili and Alhassan Yusuf, with Victor Osimhen leading the attack and William Troost-Ekong captaining the side.
With Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon flanking Osimhen and Alex Iwobi right behind them, Nigeria started on the front foot, creating a few opportunities to score.
Osimhen shot high from the edge of the box while Zaidu Sanusi fired wide with the goal wide open.
With Nigeria failing to take their chances, Equatorial Guinea grew into the encounter, and the National Thunder broke the deadlock following a beautiful team move.
Jose Machin evaded the attention of Iwobi before setting up Iban Edu Salvador, who sent a curling effort into Nwabili’s bottom left corner.
Equatorial Guinea fans were still celebrating that goal when Lookman and Osimhen combined to equalise for Nigeria.
The Atalanta man dribbled past his marker before floating a cross, which Osimhen headed home to make it 1-1 in the 38th minute.
Simon came close to giving Nigeria the lead in first-half stoppage time, but goalkeeper Jesús Owono parried the effort onto the goalpost for a corner kick.
Nothing separated the two teams at the break, but the Super Eagles were back at it from the blast of the whistle in the second half.
Again, missed opportunities characterised Nigeria’s game, with Aina, Sanusi, and Osimhen seeing their shots kept out by the goalkeeper within the first ten minutes.
After a lengthy period of midfield tussle between the two teams, Nigeria gained a slight upper hand and should have gotten the winning goal when Osimhen pounced on an Iwobi pass to go one-on-one with the goalie.
However, the Africa Player of the Year shot wide when it looked much easier to find the net.
Despite the introduction of Joe Aribo, Samuel Chukwieze, and Paul Onuachu in the closing stages, Nigeria failed to find a winner.
The Super Eagles will next trade tackles with hosts Cote d’Ivoire, who defeated Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in their first match on Saturday.