Nigeria edged past Angola 1-0, while DR Congo beat Guinea 3-1 to reach the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
Lookman sends Nigeria into the last four
Nigeria edged past Angola 1-0 to reach the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals thanks to a first-half goal from Ademola Lookman.
The former Fulham and Everton winger crashed home the only goal of the game in the 41st minute as the Super Eagles, chasing a fourth AFCON title, came up against a determined resistance in Abidjan.
Jose Peseiro’s side will face Cape Verde or South Africa, who meet in Yamoussoukro on Saturday, for a place in the final.
Nigeria’s star striker Victor Osimhen twice went close in the first half with headers, the first when he got on the end of Moses Simon’s cross but could only guide this effort into the goalkeeper’s hands, then again when he nodded across goal after meeting Ola Aina’s long throw.
What would prove to be the winning goal arrived four minutes before half-time and Simon was the architect.
Alex Iwobi began the move with a sweeping ball from right to left. Nantes winger Simon found space with a well-time run down the wing and, having carried the ball to the byline, looked up and found Lookman. He evaded the attentions of Angola’s defence and hit a thumping first-time finish into the roof of the net.
Early in the second half, Calvin Bassey took the ball off the foot of team-mate Osimhen as he sought to execute a close-range overhead kick, the Fulham player nodding over the bar after Angola failed to clear a corner, as Nigeria sought to settle the game.
Minutes later, Angola came within an inch of levelling. Zini sprung Nigeria’s offside trip with an expertly timed run from a defence-splitting pass. Bearing down one-on-one against Stanley Nwabali, he opened up his right foot and despatched an effort that rebounded off the inside of the post and away to safety.
Osimhen thought he had made it 2-0 when his header from Bassey’s free-kick went in off the post, but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside, to the relief of Angola goalkeeper Antonio Dominique who had allowed the ball to squeeze through his hands.
The Napoli striker spurned another chance to seal it with 10 minutes to play, racing on to Lookman’s ball out from the back and running through on goal. He was denied by a superb last-ditch block from defender Kialonda Gaspar who deflected the ball away.
DR Congo book semi-final spot with win over Guinea
DR Congo came from a goal down to beat Guinea 3-1 in their quarter-final at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium.
Chancel Mbemba, Yoane Wissa and Arthur Masuaku scored the goals as the Congolese recovered from conceding an early penalty to secure victory and a semi-final berth for the first time since 2015.
Mbemba had given away a penalty when he shoved Mohamed Bayo in the box to allow the Guinea striker to score after 20 minutes, but the Congolese captain made up for his error seven minutes later with an excellent left-footed finish.
DR Congo then had a penalty of their own in the 65th minute which Wissa tucked away and Masuaku completed the victory by scoring directly from a free-kick near the touchline eight minutes from time.
The audacious set-piece swung into the near post catching the goalkeeper out of position.
Masuaku’s brilliant effort put the cherry on top of a convincing effort which came after four successive draws at the tournament in the Ivory Coast for the Congolese. They drew all three group games but still finished second behind Morocco in Group F and then after a 1-1 stalemate with Egypt, won on post-match penalties in the last 16 at the weekend.
DR Congo, who won the last of two Cup of Nations titles in 1974 when they were still known as Zaire, now take on either hosts Ivory Coast or Mali in the semi-final in Abidjan on Wednesday.