The Porto man denied the Super Eagles maximum points with a late penalty after John Ogu had opened the scoring with a beautiful strike
Algeria held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in their final Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifying series at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui on Friday evening.
A late spot-kick from captain Yacine Brahimi cancelled out John Ogu’s stunning 63rd minute opener to deprive Gernot Rohr’s side – already qualified for the quadrennial showpiece – their second away victory of a successful campaign.
With the match of less importance to the Super Eagles – and injuries to key members of the squad, Gernot Rohr rang the changes, most notably with a fresh forward line as Hapoel Beer Sheva’s Anthony Nwakaeme, flanked by Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi, was handed his international debut.
Wilfried Ndidi was retained in midfield alongside Oghenekaro Etebo and John Ogu. Leon Balogun was handed the captain armband as John Obi Mikel watched from the sidelines.
In the absence of first choice left-back, Elderson Echiejile, Ola Aina got his first start as the only change in the Eagles’ rearguard.
Both sides threatened with their opening exchanges as Islam Slimani directed a firm header off target in the 23rd second while his Leicester teammate Iheanacho’s cross from the right found no one at the other end.
Algeria through their front trio of Riyad Mahrez, Slimani and Brahimi then piled pressure on the visitors’ defence but all yielded no result.
Carl Medjani’s 12th minute piledriver off a corner strayed off target with Ikechuwkwu Ezenwa unshaken. And in the 33rd minute, Abdullahi Shehu’s clearance off a right-wing cross – with Slimani waiting to bury into an unguarded net – ensured the Super Eagles were still in the game.
The first half revolved around the Eagles’ half with Nwakaeme less involved in the game until two minutes before the interval when he had a left-footed effort off Iheanacho’s freekick saved by Faouzi Chaouchi.
Early in the second half, Rabah Madjer’s men threatened first through Slimani but Balogun was on hand to thwart his effort after a smart Mahrez freekick. Moments later, Chaouchi matched Iwobi’s quality after saving the Arsenal man left-footed drive from the edge of the area. But there was nothing the goalkeeper could do in the 63rd minute when Ogu bent an effort into the net from distance to hand Rohr’s men the lead.
However, with four minutes before full time, Brahimi equalised from the spot for the Algerians after the Porto man was adjudged to have been fouled by Shehu Abdullahi.
The game ended in a draw and it gave Madjer’s men their first point in six qualifying games while the Super Eagles finished the series unbeaten.