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Lookman double puts Nigeria into Cup of Nations quarter-finals

ADEMOLA Lookman’s brace ensured Nigeria a place in next weekend’s Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as they beat long-standing foes Cameroon 2-0 in the last 16.

Lookman’s 36th-minute goal at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium opened the scoring and he contributed a second on the stroke of full-time as Nigeria largely outplayed Cameroon.

They will face Angola in the last eight in Abidjan next Friday after the Angolans beat Namibia 3-0 in Bouake earlier on Saturday in the first of the knockout round games.

While Lookman’s double made him a key figure in the win, Nigeria’s African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen proved outstanding with his work rate and drove his team to victory.

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It was as much as Nigeria deserved, showing much-improved form after a largely uninspiring showing in the group phase where they finished second in their section.

Osimhen made the first goal by closing down defender Oumar Gonzalez and robbing him of the ball before unselfishly feeding it to his right to Lookman whose shot was close to goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa but somehow sneaked under him into the net.

Lookman had an opportunity for a second goal in the 56th minute from a free kick on the edge of the Cameroon penalty area as Osimhen’s pace continually troubled the Indomitable Lions.

Lookman set up Ola Aina with a chance in the 85th but it was blocked before a clever passing move with Alex Iwobi and Calvin Bassey saw Lookman finish at the near post in the 90th minute.

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Nigeria also had the ball in the net after nine minutes but it was ruled out after a VAR check. Central defender Semi Ojayi was deemed to be offside before snapping up a rebound from close range after Ondoa twice attempted to punch clear from a corner.

Ondoa was again preferred to Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana, left on the bench by Cameroon after his poor performance against Senegal last week.

Nigeria are through to the last eight for the 13th time in their past 14 Cup of Nations finals appearances.

On Sunday, giant-killers Equatorial Guinea play Guinea in Abidjan followed by a meeting in San Pedro between Egypt, without injured Mohamed Salah, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are more last-16 games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, including hosts Ivory Coast against Senegal.

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By MARK GLEESON

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