Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying
  • Odion Ighalo (4' PEN, 58', 69')
  • Samuel Kalu (90')

Hat-trick hero Ighalo fires Nigeria past Libya

Odion Ighalo of Nigeria sings the national anthem Backpage pix

Odion Ighalo's first international hat-trick and a maiden Nigeria goal for Samuel Kalu fired the Super Eagles to a 4-0 victory over Libya in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.

The Changchun Yatai forward opened scoring from the spot in the fourth minute, doubling his tally in the 58th minute, before completing his hat-trick 11 minutes later.

Kalu added a fourth right at the death to seal a win which ensures Nigeria climb into second place in Group E, a point behind leaders South Africa.

Nigeria started in impressive fashion, and were deservedly awarded a third-minute penalty after good pressing from Ighalo forced goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush into a foul.

Despite getting a fingertip to the ball, Nashnoush couldn't prevent Ighalo from opening the scoring and affording the hosts the strong start they craved.

Libya almost responded within minutes, but goalkeeper Francis Uzoho produced a stunning one-handed save to deny Anis Saltou, whose firm header looked goal bound.

Alex Iwobi, who had struggled to influence proceedings in the opening half just behind Ighalo, gradually picked up his pace after the break, and his brilliantly weighed pass which sliced open the Libya defence was calmly tucked home by Ighalo after rounding Nashnoush.

The two-goal advantage clearly spurred Nigeria on, and it was soon increased to three with Ahmed Musa's squared centre tucked home by Ighalo at the second attempt to complete his hat-trick and net his fourth goal in the qualifying campaign.

New kid on the block Kalu, who had endured a mixed outing on his second start for Nigeria, bagged the final goal in a surprisingly one-sided contest, with Libya perhaps feeling the effects of the shock exit of coach Adel Amrouche's earlier this week.

Next up for both teams is the reverse fixture on October 16 at the Stade Taieb Mhiri, Sfax, Tunisia as both teams aim to consolidate their position in a bid to bag one of the two available group tickets to Cameroon.