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06/07/2013 16:00

Mba brace takes down 9-man Côte d'Ivoire

Posted: 6 July 2013 Time: 19:29

Two goals from Sunday Mba and one each from Gambo Mohammed and Emeka Eze handed Nigeria a healthy 4-1 first leg win over Côte d'Ivoire in their African Nations Championship qualifier.

The Ivorian’s had Roger Assale and Baresi Gloudoueu sent off in the second half.

Nigeria have never qualified for this tournament, now in it's third edition, and needed a big win to ensure progress.

Gambo Mohammed, haunted by his Confederations Cup miss against Spain, found redemption within 12 minutes.

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Played in by a wonderful reverse ball from Sunday Mba, the Kano Oillars striker turned on a coin, and somehow squeezed his shot past Sylvain Gbouhouo.

Just short of the hour mark, Sunday Mba doubled the lead. Godfrey Oboabona launched a long punt to Ezekiel Mba, who killed it in mid-air, and whipped in a cross.

The ball bobbed and fell to Sunday, and he smashed into the roof of the net.

Gambo guided a header not long after, but it was ruled off for offside, a decision that looked incorrect on replay.

The Ivorian’s also had a goal chalked off for offside. Kevin Zougoula ruled to be the culprit just before he tapped in.

But they were not to be denied. Assale weaves his way past a flummoxed Nigeria defence as he cut in from wide, then teed up the ball for Tiecoura Coulibaly to fire past Agbim.

Nigeria were awarded a penalty three minutes after halftime.

Solomon Kwambe's corner kick was handled in the box, referee Mahammadou Keita pointed to the spot, and drama broke out.

Assale went to the touch line to remonstrate with the officials, only to earn himself a straight red for talking out of turn.

Undistracted, Sunday Mba stepped up to bury the spotkick. Barely minutes later, the visitors were down to 9 men.

Baresi, already on a yellow card from an earlier tackle on Mba, barged into the midfielder again as he went to chest a high ball.

Keita had no option but to flash the second yellow. Down by two men, it was only a matter of time before they conceded again, and again, Mba was involved.

He casually saw off one challenge as he drove to the by-line, then cut the ball across as a number of Super Eagles players lined up to have a go. The ball fell to Eze, and he kept his composure to skip one challenge before tucking the ball away.

Despite the one goal, it is exactly the result Nigeria needed ahead of the second leg in two week’s time

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