Gernot Rohr’s men roared into a four-goal lead at Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, but were ultimately forced to settle for a point
Nigeria surrendered a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 against Sierra Leone in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying game on Friday evening.
Alex Iwobi’s double and strikes from Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze handed the Super Eagles an impressive first-half lead before a brace from Al-Hadji Kamara and efforts from Kwame Quee and Mustapha Bundu ensured the game ended in a draw.
As a result, Nigeria remain on top of the Group L standings with seven points from three games, ahead of second-placed Benin (four), who host Lesotho (one) on Saturday, while Sierra Leone are in third with two points.
The Super Eagles got their qualifying campaign off to a flying start after securing victories over the Republic of Benin and Lesotho in November 2019 before the outbreak of Covid-19.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr preferred Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Maduka Okoye in goal, after delivering fine performances in last month’s friendlies against Algeria and Tunisia.
Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Kevin Akpoguma and Zaidu Sanusi formed a four-man defence while Oghenekaro Etebo and Joe Aribo, who missed the Super Eagles friendlies in October due to injury problems, were handed starting roles, combining with Iwobi in the midfield.
Napoli attacker Osimhen spearheaded the attack while captain Ahmed Musa and Chukwueze were preferred on the flanks.
For Sierra Leone, Mohamed Kamara, Umar Bangura and Quee were included in the starting line-up as coach John Keister aimed to get their qualifying campaign back on track.
The game started on a bright note with both sides charging for goals but Nigeria was the better side in the opening 30 minutes.
The Super Eagles hit the ground running in the encounter when Everton star Iwobi opened the scoring, firing home a fine strike from the edge of the box.
Sierra Leone came close to levelling proceedings in the 20th minute but missed the glorious opportunity and seemed to pay for the missed chance when Nigeria doubled their lead two minutes later.
Osimhen connected with a fine cross from Sanusi and hit his effort into the back of the net beyond the reach of the Leone Stars goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
The Super Eagles continued to dominate proceedings and Iwobi got his second in the encounter when he lofted his effort past Kamara in the 27th minute.
Chukwueze made it 4-0 for the three-time African champions in the 29th minute with an individual effort, firing a superb strike into the top corner before Quee pulled one back for Sierra Leone moments before the half-time break.
The second-half continued in a similar fashion as the Super Eagles continued their domination and Chukwueze came close to scoring his second but it was ruled offside.
Nigeria coach Rohr introduced red-hot Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho for Musa while West Bromwich Albion centre-back Semi Ajayi was brought on for Balogun in the 65th minute.
Sierra Leone, however, pushed for a comeback with Kamara reducing the deficit in the 72nd minute before Bundu scored the third for the Leone Stars eight minutes later.
Kamara then notched the all-important equalising goal with four minutes left to full-time to ensure his side shared the points with the Super Eagles at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. (GOAL)