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Chelsea stars lead Nigeria past Algeria, Uganda down Congo

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John Obi Mikel (R) of Nigeria celebrates his goal scored against Denmark during the Rio Olympics men's quarter-final football match on August 13, 2016

John Obi Mikel (R) of Nigeria celebrates his goal scored against Denmark during the Rio Olympics men’s quarter-final football match on August 13, 2016

Abuja, Nigeria, Nov 12- Victor Moses scored twice while Chelsea teammate John Obi Mikel was also on target as Nigeria downed Algeria 3-1 to stay on course for the World Cup finals on Saturday.

Nigeria have a perfect six points from two games in Group B, four ahead of Cameroon who drew 1-1 at home to Zambia.

The Nigerians took the game to their opponents and were rewarded after 25 minutes when Moses was released by Mikel to fire past Algeria goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi.

The Super Eagles doubled their lead three minutes from the interval when Mikel controlled the ball at the top of the box and after a moment of hesitation, drilled it beyond the Algerian keeper.

Algeria pulled a goal back in the 67th minute, when Nabil Bentaleb smashed home an unstoppable shot from distance.

Man of the match Moses then put the game beyond the north Africans in stoppage time, when he smashed home off a low cross by substitute Ahmed Musa.

The outcome could have been a lot different had the visitors made the most of two clear-cut chances in the first half.

First, Schalke 04 star Bentaleb missed a sitter from inside the Nigeria box after 36 minutes.

And minutes later, Riyad Mahrez came close to getting on the score sheet, but his shot just missed the target with the Nigeria defence at his mercy.

When Algeria pulled a goal back, they pegged their hosts in their own half with the dangerous Yacine Brahimi tormenting the Eagles defence and Mahrez in charge of the midfield.

Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, in for the injured Carl Ikeme, tipped away a free kick with nine minutes left on the clock.

Elsewhere, South Africa inflicted a first competitive defeat on Senegal since January 2015, winning 2-1 in Polokwane to go top of Group D.

South Africa coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba knew that anything less than a win against Group D pacesetters Senegal would increase the pressure on him, after Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

The hosts took the lead in the 43rd minute after a contentious penalty was awarded for handball.

Thulani Hlatshwayo confidently shot past Abdoulaye Diallo to successfully convert the spot-kick and put South Africa 1-0 up.

Just minutes later, Bafana Bafana doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time thanks to an impressive individual goal from Thulani Serero to leave Senegal facing an uphill task.

Senegal grabbed a consolation goal 15 minutes from time through Cheikh Ndoye, but they could not find a path through a stubborn South African defence, to taste a competitive defeat for the first time in almost two years.

In Cameroon, Zambia took a shock lead through Collins Mbesuma in the 34th minute, with the hosts’ equaliser coming from the penalty spot, as Vincent Aboubakar struck just before half-time.

In a blow for Zambia, their influential TP Mazembe player Rainford Kalaba was booked with the Zambia FA confirming he will now miss their match against Algeria.

In Kampala, Uganda picked up three more points in Group E with a 1-0 win over Congo Brazzaville.

A goal from 18-year-old forward Farouk Miya in the 18th minute was enough to give the Cranes a vital victory which takes them to the top of the group on four points.

Miya, who plays for Standard Liege in Belgium, controlled the ball effortlessly to shoot past Congolese goalkeeper Mongondza Ngobo, and add another goal to his growing international tally.

Uganda had a wealth of chances for both Miya and captain Geofrey Massa, but the hosts failed to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal.

They were almost made to pay late on in the match when their Congolese opponents had a clear shot on goal, only for the Ugandan defence to clear it off the line.

Veteran Cranes midfielder Tony Mawejje was visibly upset when stretchered off with an injury midway through the second half, an incident that clouded an otherwise impressive afternoon for the hosts.

On Friday, the second round of group games got underway in Algeria where the Group A match between Libya and Tunisia took place on security grounds.

A penalty from Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri was enough to give Tunisia a 1-0 victory and take them to the top of Group A with two wins out of two.

Libya are bottom of the group after two consecutive defeats.

The other Group A game pits Guinea against the Democratic Republic of Congo – one of two African 2018 World Cup qualifiers on Sunday. The other Sunday fixture is between Egypt and Ghana in group E.

-Additional reporting by Agencies-

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