Odion Ighalo on Tuesday scored twice for the Super Eagles to beat Libya 3-2 and shoot to the top of Group E in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
Ighalo scored in each half of the game, while match captain Ahmed Musa added another one. It was a narrow win for the Super Eagles in the Tunisian city of Sfax, but it was just enough to claim a third consecutive victory.
South Africa’s goalless with Seychelles earlier on Tuesday meant Nigeria now top the group with nine points, while Bafana Bafana slipped to second with eight points.
Libya remain in the third position on the log with four points, while Seychelles sit at the bottom of the log with one point.
The match started on a bright note for the Nigerian side as Musa combined well with Alex Iwobi to find Ighalo in the box for an easy tap-in in the 14th minute.
The Changchun Yatai striker returned the favour three minutes later as he found Musa who forced his way past three Libyan defenders before scoring Nigeria’s second.
Libya responded in the 35th minute as a near-post header by Mohamed Zubya completely beat Francis Uzoho in goal to make it 2-1.
The second half became more difficult for the three-time African champions as Libya piled on the pressure.
The hosts’ long wait for an equaliser finally came as Ahmad Benali made it 2-2 in the 74th minute after an initial Uzoho’s save fell kindly into his path.
He only needed to tuck it away to keep the game open. However, an individual brilliance from Ighalo gave Nigeria a crucial victory as he beat two defenders and drove in a left-foot shot to make it 3-2 at the end of a nervy encounter.
Both Nigeria and South Africa will play what should be the deciding group match on Friday, November 15 at the FMB Stadium in Johannesburg.
The Super Eagles will end their campaign when they take on Seychelles at home on Match Day 6 on March 22.