Odion Ighalo scores hat-trick as Nigeria thrashed Libya 4-0 in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.
The Super Eagles showed class with an emphatic victory over a Libyan side rocked by the resignation of their head coach in build-up to the clash.
Backed by a roaring crowd at the Akwa Ibom State capital, Gernot Rohr’s men came off the blocks firing and won a penalty in the fourth minute following a goalkeeping howler by Mohamed Abdaula.
Ighalo, who won the penalty, stepped up and duly converted from the spot; firing home into the left corner of the net to send the home fans wild
Eager to make amends for their poor start to the qualifier, the hosts continued to dominate the early proceedings and were only denied a second by the woodwork moments later.
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 Mediterranean Knights enjoyed a spell of pressure with their slick passing and movement, but Ighalo competed his brace in the 58th minute against the run of play.
Playmaker Alex Iwobi’s defence splitting pass freed the former Watford man, who 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 when stand-in skipper Ahmed Musa found the goal-poacher with a cross from the right.
He sorted out his feat and bundled home the rebound after Abdaula had denied him at the first time of asking.
The enterprising 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 follwojng a cutback from substitute Henry Onyekuru.
Victory moves Nigeria up above Libya in Group E, a point behind Bafana Bafana who dispatched the Seychelles 6-0 in Soweto earlier today.