The three-time African champions started their qualifying campaign on Friday with an impressive victory in Lagos
Kelechi Iheanacho’s prop led Nigeria to a 2-0 victory over Liberia on Friday in their opening match in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers in Lagos.
Iheanacho’s efforts at Teslim Balogun Stadium led his international score to 11 goals when he clinched Jay-Jay Okocha and Julius Aghahowa’s 14 goals in the national team’s colors.
The Super Eagles started the meeting on a stronger footing with the most effort to goal and greater possession that paid off with two goals in the first 45 minutes.
After a good team move, Joe Aribo almost broke the deadlock in the first 20 minutes, but his attempt did not have the strength to threaten goalkeeper Ashley Williams.
The hosts kept pushing for an early goal they scored in the 23rd minute after Iheanacho shot his strike past Williams, thanks to a corner kick from Alex Iwobi.
Liberia responded immediately with a free kick from captain Allen Njie, but it was brilliantly saved by Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Maduka Okoye. The captain of the Lone Star then received the first yellow card of the meeting for a clumsy challenge on Iheanacho.
After a long throw from Jamilu Collins, Iwobi heads the ball down to the Leicester City star who put the ball past the helpless Williams to double the lead at half-time.
Immediately after the restart, Iheanacho had a chance to score his hat-trick, but his header was far from the goal.
Nigeria continued its dominance and just before the hour they got another chance to extend their lead after a series of moves from Ndidi in the penalty area, but the last pass could not be converted by Iwobi.
Victor Osimhen continued to stifle them, however, as he made the save look easy. The keeper made the save.
The Napoli talisman ended the meeting without pressure as he was replaced by Paul Onuachu and Bordeaux wing Samuel Kalu replaced Simon in the 78th minute.
A few minutes later, Nigeria made another double substitute as captain Ahmed Musa and Abdullahi Shehu played for Iheanacho and Iwobi respectively.
Aribo was replaced full time by the stroke by Watford’s Oghenekaro Etebo.
In recognition of their individual performances, Iheanacho was named the Man of the Match, while Iwobi claimed another million naira as the most valuable player.
The victory brought Nigeria to the top of the Group C squad by three points after their rivals Cape Verde and the Central African Republic drew 1-1 on Wednesday.
The next time for the three-time African champion is a trip to Vape Verde for their second group match on September 7 while Liberia battle the Central African Republic on Monday.