FC Noaudhibou and Rangers chances of progressing to the knockout phases of the Total CAF Confederations Cup suffered a blow after they played to a 1-1 draw in Enugu on Sunday to see each move to two points after four matches.
Ibrahim Olawoyin rescued a point for the Nigerians with a second half penalty after Yasin Elwely had given Nouadhibou a first half lead.
The two sides will have to win both their remaining matches to have any realistic hope of progressing to the last eight with the Mauritanians playing away to second placed Al Masry and at home against leaders Pyramids while Rangers also face the two Egyptian teams in home and away alternates.
With only one point from three matches, Rangers were in danger of dropping off contention for a place at the quarters if they failed to earn maximum points. With this in mind, they went on attack from the first whistle.
Nnamdi Egbujuo missed a glorious chance in the 13th minute when he put in a poor shot from good scoring range inside the box after being sent through on goal by Emmanuel Madu. Four minutes later, Kenechukwu Agu forced Nouadhibou keeper Drissa Kouyate into a full stretch save with a well taken shot from range.
For the missed chances, the Nigerian side was forced to pay after 22 minutes when the visitors got into the lead. Elwely struck a brilliant freekick from range, curling beautifully beyond the wall and beyond keeper Nana Bonsu.
Welly came close to doubling his tally just five minutes later, after Rangers lost the ball in a dangerous area in their own defensive third, but the forward’s shot didn’t gather enough strength behind it, keeper Bonsu collecting with ease.
In the second half, Rangers, pushed on by the home crowd surged in search of an equalizer and a winner to put their campaign back on track. Their search bore fruit in the 67th minute when Olawoyin’s penalty sneaked beneath the keeper’s arms after Chinonso Eziekwe was appended inside the box by Sidi Yacoub.
The goal was a welcome relief for Rangers who received a huge confidence shot. They however dodged a bullet in the 71st minute when the visitors missed two back to back chances.
After losing the ball cheaply on the left, the ball was played to Elwely inside the box, but his shot was saved with only the keeper to beat. The rebound fell on Jacob Depode who took a shot that deflected off Elwely, but the effort came against the bar.
No effort in the final 20 minutes could bear fruit for any side as they now head into two massive must win assignments.