Demola Ojo with agency reports
Chelsea duo Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel scored the goals as Nigeria’s Super Eagles move four points clear on top of their World Cup qualifying group with a 3-1 win over a star-studded Algerian side n Uyo yesterday. Cameroon were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Zambia yesterday, leaving them in second place with two points. Zambia and Algeria have a point apiece after two matches.
Moses put the Super Eagles in front after 26 minutes with a low shot from inside the area after Hicham Belkaroui failed to clear the danger.
Another defensive blunder cost Algeria again three minutes before the break when John Obi Mikel doubled the lead in bizarre fashion. The midfielder thought he was offside when he was picked out by a through pass. He dithered for a second before realising that he was actually onside, firing low into the net.
Algeria, boasting Leicester City’s duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, were guilty of spurning some clear-cut chances in the first half, with Nabil Bentaleb volleying over the bar with the goal at his mercy and Saphir Taider going close with an angled shot.
However, Algeria pulled a goal back in the 67th minute, when Nabil Bentaleb smashed home an unstoppable scorcher from distance.
Man of the match Moses put the game beyond the North Africans in stoppage time, when he fired home off a low cross by substitute Ahmed Musa.
The outcome of this game could have been a lot different had the visitors made the most of two clear-cut chances in the first half.
First, Nabil Bentaleb threw away a sitter from inside the Nigeria box when the easier thing was for him to score after 36 minutes. And minutes later, Riyad Mahrez came close to getting on the score sheet, but his shot from inside the box missed the target narrowly with the Nigeria defence at his mercy.
When Algeria pulled a goal back they pegged their hosts in their own half of the pitch with the dangerous Yacine Brahimi and Riyad Mahrez in full charge of the midfield.
However Moses turned up at the death to give Ngeria victory and a healthy margin at the top of their group.
Nigeria are in pole position to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia as they lie on top of Group B with six points from two games, four clear of Cameroon who could not beat Zambia at home.
Veteran striker Collins Mbesuma gave Zambia the lead with a close-range finish after 34 minutes but Vincent Aboubakar converted a penalty on the stroke of halftime to secure a share of spoils.
Zambia and Algeria both have a solitary point, with the latter facing an uphill climb to stay in contention for a World Cup berth.