Nigeria produced an impressive comeback at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium after coming from behind to beat Benin Republic 2-1 in their opening group game of the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers on Wednesday evening.

Gernot Rohr made three changes to the side that executed the last international game versus Brazil, with Daniel Akpeyi, Ola Aina and Samuel Kalu afforded starting spots in Uyo.

Nigeria suffered a blow after just three minutes in when some sloppy defending allowed Stephane Sessegnon to slot past Daniel Akpeyi and put the visitors ahead.

Nigeria flew out at their opponents after the setback, with Samuel Chukwueze and Alex Iwobi looking particularly dangerous, and the former could have gotten the equaliser when he struck the frame with his shot.

The leveller eventually arrived from the spot just before the break, after Iwobi played in Ola Aina who was brought down by Nabil Yarou in the area. Victor Osimhen duly stepped up and sent Fabien Farnolle the wrong way.

Rohr’s team upped their ante after the restart and the pressure they sustained on the opposition soon paid off when Samuel Kalu took on the opposition defence in breathtaking style before bending a low shot into the bottom left corner in the 63rd minute.

The Squirrels however, nearly grabbed an equaliser late on when Jordel Dossou pranced through the Nigerian defence and crashed a powerful shot off the under side of the crossbar.

However, Farnolle was still required to palm away a sizzling drive from Iwobi in the closing stages, and that was as good as it got for Nigeria who thus, opened their qualifying adventure with a victory.

Nigeria’s starting XI: Akpeyi, Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Aina, Collins, Ndidi, Aribo, Iwobi, Kalu, Chukwueze, Osimhen.

Emmanuel Chinaza