Nigerian punish Cameroon to reach AFCON quarter-finals in Abidjan

Nigeria reached the quarter-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after Ademola Lookman scored twice to beat a disappointing Cameroon 2-0 in the last 16 in Abidjan.

The Atalanta forward opened the scoring nine minutes before the break after Victor Osimhen forced Oumar Gonzalez into a mistake and then teed up Lookman to fire past goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, who was preferred to Andre Onana.

Former England Under-21s forward Lookman sealed the win in the 90th minute after one of the game's best moves, volleying home Calvin Bassey's cutback to spark huge celebrations among the three-time champions.

Despite introducing Vincent Aboubakar, top scorer at the 2021 tournament, late on for his first appearance after a muscle injury sustained on the eve of the finals, Cameroon failed to register a shot on target.

The Super Eagles will meet Angola, who impressed in a 3-0 win over Namibia earlier, in the last eight on Friday, also in the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium.

Cameroon coach Rigobert Song will face serious pressure back home following his latest failure, having exited the 2022 World Cup at the group stage.

Cameroon football federation president Samuel Eto'o, who was watching on from the stands, will now have to decide whether to retain or dismiss his former team-mate.

Playing in the stadium where they won the first of their five continental crowns, beating Nigeria in the 1984 final, the Indomitable Lions looked disjointed throughout, as they have been for much of the tournament.

Cameroon have seen off the West Africans in three Nations Cup finals, but the Super Eagles often have the better of their meetings when they meet earlier on.

Nigeria's victory, thoroughly deserved after outplaying their rivals, was their second over Cameroon at this stage of the tournament in the past three editions, having won 3-2 in Egypt in 2019.

Super Eagles dominate in Abidjan

Matches between African heavyweights can often descend into laboured affairs and, with Cameroon failing to impress as a cohesive unit, it was left to a determined Nigeria to energetically take the game to their opponents.

The Super Eagles thought they had opened the scoring after just nine minutes when defender Semi Ajayi fired home only for the goal to be ruled out for offside following an excellent spot by the Video Assistant Referee.

Nonetheless, after Ondoa twice failed to clear the danger with his punches, the television cameras often turned to Onana, who flew out to Ivory Coast on a private jet after playing for Manchester United on the eve of Cameroon's opener only to feature just once at the finals.

The opener came after Gonzalez was muscled off the ball by the excellent Osimhen, who worked tirelessly throughout and played in Lookman for a low finish which squirmed in under the body of Ondoa.

Despite the lack of goal threat, Song's sole tactical change with the game in the balance was to throw on Aboubakar late on.

Yet the striker, who scored the winner in the 2017 Nations Cup final and netted eight goals in the tournament two years ago, struggled to get into the game as he made his first outing after injury.