NPFL defending champions, Rivers United, reached the quarter-final of the 2023 CAF Confederation Cup after they fought back to draw 2-2 with Congolese side, CSMD Diables Noires in yesterday’s Group B match played at the ‘Nest of Champions’ in Uyo.
When both sides met in the first leg of the double header, the host thrashed Rivers United 3-0 but the ‘Pride of Rivers’ bounced back from that opening day loss to win three matches in a row to go top of the group.
In yesterday’s match, the Nigerian representatives who needed at least a point to progress to the next round started strongly as they piled pressure on the visitors’ defence.
Joseph Onoja assisted by Nyima Nwagua attempted to put Rivers United in front as early as the 5th minute but his right footed shot outside the box went far and wide.
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Eight minutes later, Noires responded with their own attempt at goal but Josue Isala’s left footed shot from the centre of the box was blocked.
Rivers United continued to pile pressure on the visitors but suffered a big blow in the 28th minute when defender Emmanuel Ampiah turned the ball into his own net while attempting to stop Domi Massoumou’s cross into the box.
The host fought desperately to equalise but poor finishing denied them as Daibles Noires stood firm to take their slim lead into the break.
On resumption, Rivers United continued to push for an equaliser which was delayed till the 74th minute when their inspirational striker, Nyima Nwagua, made good use of Onoja’s clever cross to draw them level.
Before the visitors could recover from the goal, the former Kano Pillars man put Rivers United in front for the first time in the match with his brace in the 77th minute.
However, Rivers United’s lead didn’t last long as the visitors hit back in the 81st minute when Déo Bassinga capitalised on the hosts’ sloppy defending to make it 2-2.
It was, therefore, a nervy finish as Noires stretched Rivers United to the limit in search of a winning goal.
In the closing minutes, the Rivers United resorted to delay tactics as they knew a point would take them to the next round and they indeed progressed after holding on for a 2-2 draw.
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