Goals from John Mikel Obi and Aiyegbeni Yakubu gave the battling Super Eagles the win and, coupled with Mali’s 3-0 defeat to Ivory Coast in the group’s other game, sees them though to face hosts Ghana in the next round.
1 mins: And we’re underway! An early goal would go wonders to settling the nerves. We’ll keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the other match as well.
6 mins: Yakubu misses a great early chance! He made the position for himself brilliantly with his strength, brushing aside two defenders, but his placed shot was just wide of the far post. Odemwingie has looked lively early on the left.
11 mins: The Ivory Coast have scored through Didier Drogba! As it stands, Nigeria just need to win! There is a good urgency about Nigeria in the opening stages of the game. You can see they are up for this. They are, however, looking nervous at the back, perhaps just too eager to get the ball forward. They get a free-kick 35-yards out and opt to take it quickly, and the chance is lost. Again, too eager, they must settle down to their normal game.
16 mins: Gaspoz has a long-range shot well-saved Ejide, reminder that Benin do have some firepower.
21 mins: Yakubu shoots over from an angle. The goalkeeper comes way too far out of his ground to stop Odemwingie, but misses him completely and the Nigerian winger then has two in the middle to aim for with no goalkeeper in sight. Unfortunately he finds a covering defender instead. Ahoueya almost nips in at the near post from a corner, but heads across the goal instead of into it. Etuhu brings down Sessegnon 35-yards out, but Oumar Tchomogo’s shot hits the wall.
26 mins: Taiwoo almost gets Utaka in, but a corner results. Yobo heads over from the set-piece. Yakubu just fails to get onto Uche’s cross as the ball skids in front of him. Obi’s floated free-kick is plucked out the air by the keeper ahead of Shittu.
31 mins: Brilliant work from Odemwingie on the left sees the cross just elude Yakubu as Djidonou gets there first. The Nigerian defence is stretched as benin get two attackers on a lone Yobo in the box. Only poor decision-making saves the Super Eagles.
36 mins: What a waste! Nigeria get three-on-one on the edge of the area with an intercepted pass, but Uche plays the wrong ball, trying to get Odemwingie in when if he had just looked left, he would have seen a wide-open Yakubu. The Everton striker is frustrated with the service coming in to him tonight. Again Utaka plays a poor ball to an onrushing Obi when a little more care was needed. With all their possession, Nigeria should be at least two goals to the good, but the final pass has let them down.
41 mins: Taiwo gets to the byline and with four Nigerian players to aim for in the area, picks out a defender. Uche tries an effort from range, but it’s high and wide.
HALFTIME: Nigeria looked like they ran out of idea towards the end of the half. That is now 225 minutes without a goal and in truth Benin keeper Djidonou has hardly has a save to make. A big 45 minutes coming up now for Berti Vogts.
46 mins: We are back underway …
51 mins: Benin start the half well, with Ejide pushing a long-range shot from substitute Muri Ogunbiyi wide. Yakubu’s shot is blocked and Odemwingie can’t convert the rebound. As things stand now, if Nigeria win 1-0 and the Ivory Coast keep their 1-0 lead over Mali, then the Super Eagles will go through on the Fair Play rule, having conceded less yellow cards in the tournament. That’s how tight it is, but Nigeria need a goal first.
52 mins: Jonas Oketola gets a YELLOW CARD for a foul on Obi. Utaka is replaced by Obinna Nsofor.
53 mins: GOAL! AT LAST! Nigeria finally get their goal. Taiwoo’s free-kick is thunderous and Djidonou can only beat it out to his left. Odemwingie picks up the ball and crosses to the far post, where Obi is on hand to score.
57 mins: And the Ivory Coast are now 2-0 up through Marc Zoro! It is all going Nigeria’s way in the last few minutes! Nigeria just need to hold on for the win now.
62 mins: Obi tries his luck from 30-yards but that was never a threat on goal. Omotoyossi almost finds a way through, but just can’t get his shot away from 10 yards. That was dangerous. YELLOW CARD for Odemwingie for diving. Correct call by the referee.
67 mins: Uche does brilliantly, turns well in the area and shoots, but Djidonou saves well low to his right. Nsofor bits the crossbar with a header from the corner. Unlucky for the substitute.
72 mins: Yakubu wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Shittu hits out, but it was never close.
77 mins: Richard Eromoigbe comes on for Etuhu. Benin are pushing forward now, Nigeria need to keep their shape at the back. Nwaneri has a chance to shoot, but it’s wild.
82 mins: Nigeria need a second. If Mali score now, they will go through by virtue of goals scored. I’m not sure the Super Eagles can leave it to chance.
85 mins: Nsofor has a glorious chance to get that goal! Brilliantly played in by Yakubu, he twists and turns the defender before side-footing wide. Unbelievable miss under the circumstances. Omotoyossi almost makes him pay at the other end, but he sends his shot over the bar. Vogts is going mad at his defence on the sideline.
86 mins: GOAL! Yakubu has buried it! Obi plays him in over the top and Yakubu slots it home cool as you like. With the Ivory Coast now 3-0 up, that means the Super Eagles are surely through!
FULLTIME: So Nigeria have done it, on a day when there was all doom and gloom around the national side, they have progressed to the quarterfinals. It may not have been a vintage performance, but it was effective enough. Ghana await in the next round!
Nigeria 2 (Obi 52 Yakubu 86)
Yellow cards: Peter Odemwingie: Jonas Oketola
Nigeria: 12 Austin Ejide, 2 Joseph Yobo, 3 Taye Taiwoo, 15 Ike Uche, 6 Danny Shittu, 11 Peter Odemwingie (Rabiu Afolabi 90), 8 Yakubu Aiyegbeni, 16 Dickson Etuhu (Richard Eromoigbe 73), 10 Mikel John Obi, 7 John Utaka (Obinna Nsofor 51), 5 Obinna Nwaneri
Benin: 6 Yoann Djidonou, 3 Abdoul Adenon, 5 Damien Chrystosome, 14 Alain Gaspoz, 15 Anicet Adjamossi (Muri Ogunbiyi 46), 6 Jonas Oketola, 7 Romauld Boco, 17 Stephane Sessegnon (Abou Maiga 84), 19 Jocelyn Ahoueya, 8 Razak Omotoyossi, 10 Oumar Tchomogo