Odion Ighalo netted a hat-trick as Nigeria claimed an emphatic 4-0 win over Libya in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.
Eager to right the wrongs from last year on home soil, Nigeria proved their quality with a commanding victory over a Libyan side rocked by the resignation of their head coach in the build-up to the clash.
Victory moves Nigeria up above Libya in Group E, a point behind Bafana Bafana who dispatched the Seychelles 6-0 in Soweto earlier today.
The Super Eagles hit the front as early as the fourth minute following a goalkeeping howler by Mohamed Abdaula. The Libyan captain coughed up possession before bringing down Ighalo inside the area, leaving the referee with little choice.
Having won the penalty, the former Watford man stepped up and duly converted from the spot; firing home into the left corner of the net to send the home fans into delirium.
The hosts continued to dominate the early proceedings and were only denied a second by the woodwork moments later.
Peter Etebo fired in a pin-point free-kick which was well met by fellow England-based midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, but the latter’s header cannoned off the outside of the frame, with Abduala rooted to his spot.
Francis Uzoho was then called into action at the other end of the pitch and had to be at his best to keep out the visitors, who threatened to hit the hosts with a sucker punch.
Nigeria suffered an injury blow in the 19th minute as Shehu Abdullahi was forced off the field with an injury – Ola Aina took his place on the park.
The game continued to ebb and flow and having successfully navigated through a spell of pressure from the Mediterranean Knights, Nigeria pushed forward and hit the post once more on the stroke of half time.
Jamilu Collins embarked on a lung-busting run down the left flank and looked sure to score after bypassing a couple of Libyan defenders on his way to bursting into the area, but the woodwork ultimately denied him what would’ve been a memorable goal.
Ighalo competed his brace in the 58th minute following a defence-splitting pass by Alex Iwobi. The burly forward, though, still had a lot to do, but showed great composure to round the Libyan shot-stopper before firing home into an empty net.
The China-based striker duly netted his third with 69 minutes on the clock. Ahmed Musa found the goal-poacher in acres of space inside the area and having sorted out his feat, Ighalo bundled home the rebound after Abdaula had denied him at the first time of asking.
Samuel Kalu netted a fourth for the Nigerians in the 90th minute, curling home an unstoppable right-footed shot from the edge of the area to cap a perfect day for the Super Eagles.
Source – SuperSport