Africa Cup of Nations: Ighalo hits hat-trick for Nigeria, SA achieve record win
Odion Ighalo hit his first hat-trick for Nigeria as the Super Eagles defeated Libya 4-0 on Saturday in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The result moves Nigeria up to second in Group E - a point behind leaders South Africa who were emphatic 6-0 winners over Seychelles in Johannesburg, a record winning margin for Bafana Bafana.
In other results on Saturday, Zimbabwe were 2-1 winners away to DR Congo and Madagascar won 1-0 away to Equatorial Guinea.
Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the last two Nations Cups in 2015 and 2017, boosted their hopes of reaching Cameroon 2019 with a convincing win over previous Group E leaders Libya in Uyo.
Former Watford star Ighalo, now at Chinese side Changchun Yatai, set the Super Eagles on their way with a penalty in the fourth minute.
The 29-year-old struck again in the second half after 58 minutes and completed his hat-trick with 20 minutes remaining.
Samuel Kalu made it 4-0 for the hosts with a 90th minute strike.
Libya's preparations had been hampered after the sudden departure of their coach Adel Amrouche just days before the qualifier.
Earlier in Group E, South Africa achieved their biggest victory when they beat Seychelles 6-0 in Johannesburg.
The previous widest winning margin by Bafana Bafana was 5-0 at home to Guatemala in a friendly as they prepared to host the 2010 World Cup.
Three goals in a frenetic four-minute spell during the first half set South Africa on their way, starting with an own-goal from Nigel Hoareau after 23 minutes.
Thulani Hlatshwayo scored again for the hosts two minutes later with Lebo Mothiba adding a third after 27 minutes.
As the rain fell, Percy Tau struck after 74 minutes to make it 4-0 and China-based forward Dino Ndlovu justified his selection with a goal on 81 minutes.
Teboho Mokoena scored in injury time to give South Africa an emphatic victory over Seychelles who are bottom of the group, still looking for their first points.
In Kampala, Uganda kept up their push for a place at the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Cameroon with a 3-0 win over Lesotho in Group L.
Two goals from Emmanuel Okwi plus a Farouk Miya penalty gave the Cranes a victory which puts them top of the standings on seven points, three points clear of Cape Verde who beat Tanzania 3-0 on Friday.
Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye was among the goals as Senegal cruised to a 3-0 home win over Sudan in Group A, with Pape Abou Cisse and M'Baye Niang also on the scoresheet.
Madagascar join Senegal on seven points at the top of the pool after a 1-0 win in Equatorial Guinea thanks to a goal from Faneva Andriatsima.
Zimbabwe have a three-point lead over DR Congo in Group G after a 2-1 victory in Kinshasa.
Goals from Ronald Pfumbidzai and Knowledge Musona helped The Warriors secure a vital win. Yannick Bolasie struck a consolation goal late on for the hosts.
It was a mixed game for Musona who was sent off for a second yellow card, five minutes after scoring.
Comoros were on the verge of a huge achievement as they frustrated 2018 World Cup qualifiers Morocco in Casablanca for 96 minutes.
But then came heartbreak for the visitors as they conceded a penalty and Faycal Fajr scored to lift Morocco within a point of Group B pacesetters and 2019 hosts, Cameroon.
Group J leaders Tunisia battled to a 1-0 win in Rades over Niger, as Yassine Meriah scored after 17 minutes for the 'Carthage Eagles', who had Ghailene Chaalali sent off in the closing stages.
Group K is now the tightest of all the groups after Namibia's last-gasp 2-1 victory away to Mozambique.
Mexer put Mozambique ahead in the first half with Namibia equalising through Petrus Shitembi after 69 minutes.
With the match heading for a draw, Deon Hotto struck a dramatic winner for Namibia in the 90th minute to secure the visitors the win.
The result means that all four teams in the group, which also includes Zambia and Guinea-Bissau, are on four points from three games.
The reverse fixtures will take place on Tuesday 16 October.
The twelve group winners and runners-up will secure places at the finals except in Group B, where next year's hosts Cameroon and the highest placed of the other three teams will qualify.
Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations qualifying results
Group E: South Africa 6-0 Seychelles
Group L: Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
Group A: Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Madagascar
Group K: Mozambique 1-2 Namibia
Group E: Nigeria 4-0 Libya
Group G: DR Congo 1-2 Zimbabwe
Group I: Burkina Faso 3-0 Botswana
Group B: Morocco 1-0 Comoros
Group J: Tunisia 1-0 Niger
Group A: Senegal 3-0 Sudan