Nigeria seal semi-final spot after edging past Bafana



South Africa suffered a heartbreaking defeat on Wednesday night as Nigeria scored at the death to seal a hard-fought 2-1 win and a place in the 2019 AFCON semi-finals.

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Nigeria claimed the lead in the first half through Samuel Chukwueze before Bafana drew level in the 71st minute thanks to Bongani Zungu. However, it was William Troost-Ekong who had the last say, prodding the ball home from close range in the 89th minute to seal a dramatic victory for Gernot Rohr's men.

Bafana Bafana went into the clash on the back of a memorable 1-0 victory over pre-tournament favourites Egypt, while the Super Eagles of Nigeria managed to come out on top against Cameroon in a five-goal thriller.

However, it was Nigeria who started the game on the front foot, enjoying plenty of possession and utilising a patient build-up to put Stuart Baxter's men on the back foot.

Nigeria very nearly claimed the lead after six minutes of play, but Wilfred Ndidi was unable to find the mark after bursting into the Bafana danger area, firing just over the bar.

South Africa hit back with a chance of their own six minutes later only for Thembinkosi Lorch to fire wide from a tight angle after being teed up by Percy Tau.

Bafana were made to rue that missed opportunity as Nigeria went on to break the deadlock on 27 minutes, Chukwueze latching onto Ahmed Musa's deflected pass in the penalty area before slotting home past Bafana keeper Ronwen Williams.

Bafana struggled to recover from that setback as a solid Nigeria defence continued to stifle and frustrate the likes of Percy Tau, Lebo Mothiba and Lorch.

At the opposite end of the pitch, meanwhile, Nigeria had two great chances to stretch further ahead as the half wore on, but Chukwueze scuffed his shot in the 37th minute before being denied by Dean Furman's last-ditch tackle five minutes later.

South Africa had one more opportunity to draw level before the half-time whistle after earning a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Mothiba saw his attempt deflected behind by the defensive wall.

While the frustration didn't end for South Africa in the second half, they did manage to give a better account of themselves.

Nigeria continued to provide a real attacking threat, though, and Williams had to be on his toes to deny what looked to be a certain goal in the 51st minute, palming Nigeria's free-kick wide for a corner.

Bafana grew in confidence as the game progressed, but a lack of cutting edge in front of goal let Nigeria off the hook on more than one occasion, with Furman, Mkhize and substitute Themba Zwane all failing to really test Nigeria keeper Daniel Akpeyi.

The South African's didn't let their heads drop, however, and they were rewarded in the 71st minute when Bongani Zungu headed into the top-right corner from close range following a set-piece situation. The match was subsequently delayed as the referees eventually awarded the goal following a VAR review, having initially ruled it out for offside.

With ten minutes left on the clock and everything to play for, South Africa were given a massive scare when Alex Iwobi fired wide of the left post from the right-hand side of the box.

And, with the match seemingly heading for extra time, Nigeria cranked up the pressure in the final minutes, going close when Kenneth Omeruo saw his header blocked by the Bafana defence.

They weren't to be denied a late winner, however, as Troost-Ekong fired home the winning goal from very close range after a cross into the box by Moses Simon.

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