The Elephants have lost 1-0 to the Super Eagles in their second AFCON group stage game this evening in Abidjan after a penalty converted by William Troost-Ekong in the 55th minute.

The most noticeable change to either sides' starting line-up was the alteration in system from Cote d'Ivoire, shifting to a back three from their usual back four. Within this formation, captain Serge Aurier made his first start of the tournament after not being fit for the first game.

To start the game, the Nigerian's conceded the lions share of possession and sat deep in a 5-4-1 formation, ready to spring into a back three as FC Porto's Zaidu Sanusi and Nottingham Forest's Ola Aina burst up and down the flanks.

Despite the home advantage for Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria's 200 travelling fans seemed to be making most of the noise at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara. They were confident heading into the match, with supporter emphasising the importance of attitude, aptly saying, "Mentality turns underdogs into big dogs."

Seven minutes in and Nigeria's Victor Osimhen skied his team's first major chance at goal, with AC Milan's Samuel Chukwueze playing a lovely through ball to the Napoli number nine.

Promising an exciting game, a mishit clearance from Sanusi gave Christian Kouame his side's first chance, forcing Stanley Nwabili to make a good save to deny the shot.

The chances were becoming hard to keep up with, as Samuel Chuckwueze was released down the left-hand side into a one-on-one with Yahia Fofana, but the tight angle made it a simple save for the keeper.

The spectators finally had a chance to breathe in the 21st minute, with Ibrahim Sangare somewhat comically swinging a long-ball out of play, something we are not used to seeing from a player of his quality.

The break did not last long though, with a quick transition from the Ivorians needing to be intercepted by Nigerian centre-back William Troost-Ekong, who then launched his sides own counter-attack.

After a couple corners, the nations continued to trade blows until the first cooling break of the game in the 31 degree climate.

As the players caught their breath and took on as much coaching advice as possible, the commentators highlighted an interesting fact- the last time Cote d'Ivoire hosted the tournament in 1984, they failed to make it out of the group stage, and Nigeria made the final.

The hosts had a different stat that went their way though, in that Nigeria have never beat The Elephants away from home.

With Didier Drogba watching on from the stands, Seko Fofana went for the unthinkable- a shot from 30-yards out that, unfortunately for the neutral, was parried away by Nwabili.

Fofana clearly felt like it was his day though, attempting another long-ranger from even further out in the 33rd minute, however it was blocked before it got to the penalty area. Both of his shots combined had an xG rate of 0.03.

Two minutes later and the visitors had a set-piece on the left-hand side of the box following a foul from Aurier. Ademola Lookman then whipped a cross into the front post which was cleared away by a hand. Despite enthusiastic calls for a penalty to Nigeria, replays showed that it was in fact a handball- by a Nigerian attacker.

As half-time approached, a Nigeria corner found its way to Sanusi outside the box, who went for a half-volley that posed no threat to the keeper.

(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Half-Time: Cote d'Ivoire 0-0 Nigeria

The action then restarted with no substitutes made from either side.

Despite the break, the drama had not gone anywhere, with the Algerian referee awarding a penalty to Victor Osimhen after Ousmane Diomande kicked the back of the striker's calf when contesting a 50-50 ball.

(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Troost-Ekong then converted the spot-kick, burying the ball in the middle of the net to put his country 1-0 up.

The Super Eagles continued to spread their wings, highlighted by a powerful long-throw from Aina nearly finding Osimhen in the six-yard box.

Home manager Jean-Louis Gasset had seen enough by this point, sending Nicolas Pepe, Wilfried Singo, and Jonathan Bamba on for Christian Kouame, Serge Aurier and Jeremie Boga.

Moses Simon of Nigeria was then sent on for Chukwueze after the second cooling break of the evening.

With 60% possession, the home side had little to show for it, failing to penetrate the opposition penalty area much in the second half.

The 74th minute saw a change in this, with Pepe putting a corner on Evan N'Dicka's head at the back post, which was sent over the bar.

Though the chance was wasteful, it signified intent which was so desperately desired by the increasingly-loud Ivorian fans.

The crowd raised another roar as they spotted Oumar Diakite preparing to come on, replacing Ghislain Konan. 

Nigeria responded with two changes of their own, with Lookman and Sanisu being replaced by Bright Osayi-Samuel and Kenneth Omeruo.

With five minutes left of the 90, Cote d'Ivoire made their final change, throwing on their fourth striker in Karim Konate for Jean-Phillipe Krasso.

Another sign of the host's desperation was symbolised by yet another wayward shot from Seko Fofana in the 86th minute, burying his head on his hands much like many of the home supporters.

In the closing stages of the game, African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, was replaced by Paul Onuachu.

With so many attacking players on the pitch, the Ivorians' creativity suffered, with an abundance of strikers seeming lost amongst the solid Nigerian backline. 

After skipping past an opposing player, Sangare had the ball in space just ahead of the half way line. With no obvious pass and a little hesitation, he added another poor long-ranged shot to his nation's tally.

This seemed unnecessary at this stage of the game, with the referee giving nine minutes of added time.

Despite the lacklustre efforts on goal, Seko Fofana was the engine in his team's midfield, fighting for every ball and attempting to play it into the box.

Nothing seemed to change for the rest of the match, with Gasset's players failing to provide any challenge to Nwabili.

Full Time: Cote d'Ivoire 0-1 Nigeria

Having beaten Guinea-Bissau 4-2 in the earlier kick-off, Equatorial Guinea now sit top of Group A on four points, with Nigeria's win today putting them in second.

Cote d'Ivoire now need to live up to their expectations as hosts in the final group stage game against the group leaders, which will take place on Monday.

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