Substitute Gabriel Okechukwu scored a 109th minute winner for Nigeria who came from behind to beat a resilient Angola side 2-1 on Sunday in Tangier to book a place at the semis.
Angola took an early second half lead through Felix Vladimir Va after Timothy Danladi’s clearance bounced off him and went past goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa in the Nigeria goal on 55 minutes.
The Super Eagles dominated the close contest and should have been in front in the opening minutes when striker Anthony Okpotu raced through on goal with only Angola keeper Landu Mavanga to beat, he instead tried to dribble and went down in the box as Angola cleared the opportunity.
Nigeria’s Osas Okoro burst through the right to send in Emeka Ogbugh whose effort forced a save from the excellent Landu in the Angola goal.
Angola threatened from a corner which saw Braulio Adelio heading just wide off Ezenwa’s goal on 14 minutes. Mano Luis also tried his luck from a distance but failed to trouble Ezenwa.
Veteran Nigeria midfielder Rabiu Ali missed from close range following a through ball from Dayo Ojo but his under hit chip fell into the hands of Landu.
Ezenwa denied Mano with two successive saves on 34 minutes after Afonso played him through with a clever flicked past into the area only to be denied by the shot stopper, , who was later adjudged Total Man of the Match.
Okpotu who lead Nigeria’s attack missed another opportunity on the stroke of half time with his effort blocked for a corner after Landu fumbled Ojo’s cross in the Angola defence.
Five minutes into the second half, Okpotu missed yet again dragging his right foot shot off target.
Va broke the deadlock when Atuloma’s clearance bounced off his body and over the helpless Ezenwa to give Angola the lead and added pressure on the much fancied Super Eagles.
The Eagles responded with Atuloma releasing a fierce shot just over the goal from distance and Gabriel Okechukwu’s header bouncing against the foot of the post with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.
Ezenwa pulled another top save with time running out for the Super Eagles with an athletic save from Afonso’s powerful strike.
Okpotu finished off Rabiu Ali’s header past Landu to draw Nigeria level and force the game to extra time much to the delight of their fans.
Okechukwu secured Nigeria a place in Wednesday’s semi-finals in Marrakech against Sudan with a solo effort drifting infield from the right skipping away from a couple of Angola challenges before firing low past Landu to win it.
Angola: Landu; Tó, Wilson, Nary, Mira – Herenilson (Celson 90′), Vládimir, Manguxi (Almeida 81′) – Mano, Job (Paty 63′), Fofó
Nigeria: Ezenwa; Ikouwem, Orji (Timothy 13′), Eze, Osas – Ojo, Atuloma, Ali – Ogbugh (Oladapo 60′), Faleye (Gabriel 59′), Okpotu.
Total Man of the Match: Ikechukwu Vincent Ezenwa (Nigeria)