Nigeria 1 Burundi 0: Odion Ighalo's effort earns Super Eagles hard-fought win
Odion Ighalo - Nigeria vs. Libya
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A second-half effort from the Shanghai Shenhua forward was enough to give Gernot Rohr's men a winning start in their Afcon 2019 campaign

Odion Ighalo scored the only goal as Nigeria defeated Burundi 1-0 in their opening Africa Cup of Nations group game.

Ighalo came off the bench to net the match-winning effort which separated the teams at the Alexandria Stadium.

The Super Eagles started on a promising note but the Swallows responded with solid defensive displays backed by counter-attacking.

Both goalkeepers were called to action within the first 15 minutes, with Jonathan Nahimana saving Paul Onuachu's header in the 14th minute while Daniel Akpeyi brilliantly stopped Amissi Cedric’s shot a few seconds later.

Tensions were raised when Akpeyi committed a defensive blunder in the 18th minute while trying to control a pass from Ola Aina, but it resulted in a corner kick.

Nigeria kept pushing for an opener but could not find the finishing touch, with Samuel Chukwueze coming close to finding the back of the net in the 28th minute.

A minute later, Burundi threatened the three-time African champions with Gael Bigirimana’s free-kick parried away by Akpeyi.

The Swallows’ best chance in the first-half came when Nsabiyumva Frederic hit the crossbar with his header in the 38th minute.

The Super Eagles were forced to make an early substitution, in the 40th minute, when Chidozie Awaziem came on for Abdullahi Shehu, who was stretchered off due to an injury.

Burundi started the second-half as the better side with Abdul Razak leading the Swallows’ charge for the opener, but Kenneth Omeruo was alert to the danger.

Twelve minutes after the restart, captain John Obi Mikel was substituted for Ahmed Musa as Rohr pushed for the opener.

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Ighalo was thrown into the fray, coming on for Onuachu in the 73rd minute, and the Shanghai Shenhua forward justified his introduction by converting a fine back-heel pass from Aina to break the deadlock four minutes later.

Although Olivier Niyungeko's men tried to find an equaliser, the Super Eagles held on to the lead to claim maximum points and move to the summit of Group B.