Tunisia and Nigeria played out a frenetic 1-1 draw in Kigali at the 2016 African Nations Championships on Friday to leave Group C wide open with three games remaining.
After a goalless first half, the game came to life soon after the break as Chisom Chikatara fired in a terrific goal to put Nigeria ahead.
Ahmed Akaichi netted a deserved equaliser for Tunisia 20 minutes from time, and the spoils had to be shared in the end as neither side could find a winner.
Tunisia looked by far the more threatening side in the opening exchanges, as the Nigerian defence appeared very vulnerable to the counter-attack.
However, it was the Super Eagles who almost took the lead after 11 minutes, with Tunisia midfielder Karim Aouadhi nearly turning the ball into his own net as he tried to defend Ifeanyi Mathew's shot.
Minutes later, Akaichi forced an excellent save from Ikechukwu Ezenwa as Tunisia looked to make their dominance count.
Abdelkader Oueslati then forced Eznewa into another save in the 26th minute and squandered a second chance minutes later as he fired over the bar.
Per African football writer Lotfi Wada, Tunisia were squandering their chances in typical fashion:
Lotfi Wada @LotfiWada
Tunisia missing chances..In other news grass is green. #chan20161/22/2016, 1:28:26 PM
Akaichi did get the ball in the back of the net just before the half-time whistle with a brilliant header, but the cross into the box was adjudged to have gone out of play and the goal was disallowed, perhaps unfairly, per Nigerian football analyst Jide Alaka:
Jide Alaka @AlakaJide
Tunisia will feel hard done by for the Akaichi goal that was disallowed on the stroke of half time #chan2016 @NGSuperEagles1/22/2016, 1:49:48 PM
The pace of the game was not dampened when they resumed for the second half, but Tunisia continued to dominate.
The deadlock was finally broken, though, by Chikatara, Nigeria's hat-trick hero from their opening drubbing of Niger.
The 21-year-old received the ball on the edge of the box in the 51st minute, set himself with a perfectly weighted touch and clipped a sweet finish over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Per Nigerian football writer Colin Udoh, Chikatara looks some prospect:
Colin NOT Collins @ColinUdoh
That's goal number 4 for Chikatara. The touch, the calm composure under pressure, the measured finish #CHAN20161/22/2016, 2:14:36 PM
The Super Eagles enjoyed a decent spell of possession after they took the lead, and Chikatara nearly scored another in the 67th minute, but Marouane Tej blocked his rasping shot.
Two minutes later, Tunisia equalised through Akaichi, as the striker received the ball from an excellent knockdown from Saad Bguir and turned quickly before firing a left-footed shot into the back of the net.
Analyst Emeka Enyadike painted a fine picture of the goal:
Emeka Enyadike @EmekaEnyadike
Akaichi is a monster... turns like a helicopter....super goal....Tunisia 1-1 Nigeria1/22/2016, 2:30:17 PM
With 12 minutes to go, Akaichi should have put his side ahead, but his weak shot from a few yards out was cleared off the line.
Zied Boughattas then had a chance from the resulting corner, but he could not curl the ball home from a wide angle.
Neither side could find a winner in the final minutes, and the entertaining clash eventually resulted in a draw. It was a fair reflection of the match, although both teams had their chances to win it.
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