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Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Saturday, 16 January 2010

Nigeria 1-0 Benin

By Ibrahim Sannie

Nigeria and Everton striker Yakubu
Yakubu converted a penalty to open the scoring for the Super Eagles

Nigeria revived their chances of reaching the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations after an edgy 1-0 win over Benin in Group C on Saturday.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni converted a 42nd- minute penalty after Squirrels defender Romuald Boco handled in the box.

Stephane Sessegnon and Nouhoum Kobena struck the woodwork for Benin with powerful shots, but Nigeria held out.

Nigeria will advance if they beat Mozambique on Wednesday while Benin must defeat Egypt to maintain hopes.

Nigeria's under-pressure coach Shaibu Amodu made two changes to the side that woefully disappointed in their 3-1 defeat by Egypt in their opening game on Wednesday.

Fit-again Osaze Odemwingie got a starting place, while England-based defender Danny Shittu replaced Obinna Nwaneri at the heart of the defence.

The changes paid dividends as Nigeria dominated the early exchanges but found the defensive pair of the Khaled Adenon and Seidath Tchomogo in good form.

The Super Eagles should have broken the deadlock on 14 minutes when Kalu Uche set up Yakubu up to beat the offside trap but the Everton forward blasted wide with only Rachad Chitou at his mercy.

Moments later, the Squirrels were left off the hook after the goalkeeper clashed with his centre-back Adenon leaving the ball to sprawl but Yakubu failed to take advantage.

Benin suffered a blow on 25 minutes when playmaker Sessegnon attracted his second yellow card of the tournament for challenging the referee, ruling him out of their crucial last group game with Egypt on Wednesday.

Chinedu Obasi and Yakubu fluffed decent scoring chances in the box before Sessegnon threatened to open the scoring for the Squirrels with a delightful effort in the 38th minute.

Nigeria's Osaze Odemwingie (in the middle) with three Benin players
Nigerian midfielder Osaze Odemwingie is eclipsed by Benin defenders

The Paris St Germain midfielder found some space in the middle of the Nigerian half and struck an excellent long-range effort that grazed the crossbar leaving goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama stranded.

The Super Eagles took the lead when Odemwingie's header was handled by Boco and Yakubu sent Chitou the wrong way for the opener.

Chitou was well placed to save Shittu's long-range shot after a second attempt before Kobena found space at the edge of the Nigeria box.

The midfielder struck a fierce drive that sent Enyeama the wrong way only for his effort to come of the crossbar, leaving the Super Eagles off the hook.

Substitute striker Obinna Nsofor had a one-on-one opportunity with the Benin goalkeeper but he fumbled before Obasi headed wide from a corner.

There was still more time for Benin to draw level but Sessegnon's shot was blocked while Omotoyossi handled in the Nigerian box.

The victory temporarily eased the pressure on coach Shaibu Amodu who could have been sacked if the Super Eagles lost their neighbours.

Nigeria: Enyeama, Echiejile, Yusuf Mohammed, Yobo, (capt, Onyekachi 55), Shittu, Mikel, Etuhu, Uche (Kaita 74), Odemwingie, Yakubu (Obinna Nsofor 59), Obasi.

Subs Not Used: Kalililo, Kasonde, Himonde, Dennis Banda, Chansa, Mbesuma, Chivuta, Singuluma, Njobvu, Jacob Banda, Clifford Mulenga.

Goals: Yakubu 42.

Booked: Echiejile.

Benin: Chitou (Yoann Djidonou 73), Adenon, Koukou, Chrysostome (capt), Boco, Tchomogo, Imorou (Singbo 67), Muri Ogounbiyi, Sessegnon, Omotoyossi, Kobena (Arnaud Seka 83).

Subs Not Used: Nefzi, Felhi, Ben Radhia, Chemmam, Hammami, Mrabet, Ali Nafkha, Ifa, Ben Mustapha, Akaichi.

Booked: Sessegnon, Boco, Omotoyossi.

Att: 8,000

Ref: Henrique Martins de Carvaldo (Angola).

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see also
Martins back in Angola
15 Jan 10 |  African
Egypt 3-1 Nigeria
12 Jan 10 |  African
Mozambique 2-2 Benin
12 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations photos
12 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations fixtures
07 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations tables
07 Jan 10 |  African

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