Late drama sees Kanno deny Nigeria victory

Late drama sees Kanno deny Nigeria victory
Mohamed Kanno of Saudi Arabia in action. EPA/ADAM VAUGHAN

by Staff Reporter

Friday Oct 13, 2023. 20:27

Nigeria missed out on the chance to make it four wins on the spin after Saudi Arabia scored a last-gasp equaliser to hold them to a 2-2 draw at the Estadio Municipal de Portimao on Friday evening.

Jose Peseiro’s side looked to be heading for a dramatic victory after Kelechi Iheanacho put them ahead with nine minutes remaining, with an own-goal from Abdulelah Al Amri having earlier cancelled out Salman Al Faraj’s 60th-minute free-kick.

But Mohamed Kanno popped up in the 10th minute of additional time to peg the Super Eagles back after he too scored from a free-kick to arrest a six-match losing streak for the Green Falcons.

After a quiet start in Portimao, Nigeria began to seize the initiative and they went on to create the majority of the chances in the first half.

Victor Osimhen had the first shot in anger on 17 minutes as he cleared the crossbar from inside the area before Victor Boniface drew a good save out of Mohammed Al Owais with an effort on the right side of the box in the 19th minute.

Ademola Lookman then dragged one wide of the left post moments later and Samuel Chukwueze also failed to hit the target from inside the area on 31 minutes.

Francis Uzoho was finally called into action six minutes later to keep out a strike from Fahad Al Muwallad after he had been played in on goal by Abdullah Al Hamddan, while back up the other end Tyronne Ebuehi tested Al Owais with a long-range effort on the right.

Victor Osimhen wasted another opportunity soon afterwards when he skied a shot from inside the box and Lookman also missed the target before half-time after latching onto a through-ball from Chukwueze.

However, Roberto Mancini’s side were presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring on the hour mark after Abdullah Al Hamddan had been brought down by Calvin Bassey in a dangerous position on the right and Al Faraj duly stepped up to curl the ball into the top left corner of the net from the resulting free-kick.

Terem Moffi nearly found a swift reply for the Super Eagles, but steered his header wide of the right post from a corner in the 62nd minute, although parity was restored just 11 minutes later when Al Amri inadvertently put the ball into the back of his own net.

Iheanacho was introduced with nine minutes left on the clock and he made an immediate impact, beating Al Owais with a strike from range only seconds after stepping onto the pitch to give Nigeria the lead.

The Leicester striker almost pounced again three minutes from time, though Al Owais was equal to the task on this occasion as he pulled off a fine save to deny Iheanacho from distance.

The drama wasn’t quite over as the Green Falcons struck deep into stoppage time to rescue a share of the spoils, with Kanno on hand to equalise from another free-kick and make the West Africans pay.

Saudi Arabia (0) 2 (Al Faraj 60, Kanno 90+10′)

Nigeria (0) 2 (Al Amri 73′ OG, Iheanacho 81′)

Saudi Arabia: M. Al Owais, H. Tambakti, A. Al Amri, A. Al Bulayhi, N. Al Dawsari, F. Al Ghamdi (S. Al Faraj 46′), A. Al Khaibari (Y. Al Shahrani 86′), A. Hazzazi (M. Kanno 63′), F. Al Muwallad (S. Al Shehri 63′), F. Al Brikan (S. Al Dawsari 46′), A. Al Hamddan (M. Maran 86′).

Nigeria: F. Uzoho, T. Ebuehi (B. Osayi-Samuel 65′), S. Ajayi, C. Bassey, B. Onyemaechi, S. Chukwueze (K. Iheanacho 65′), W. Ndidi, A. Iwobi (J. Aribo 78′), A. Lookman (M. Simon 66′), V. Osimhen (T. Moffi 59′), V. Boniface (U. Sadiq 78′).

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