Nigeria have moved to withing touching distance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup after crushing Cameroon 4-0 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Friday evening.
The victory takes the Super Eagles to a full haul of nine points at the top of Group B, a comfortable seven points clear of the second-placed Indomitable Lions (though the gap could be reduced by either Zambia or Algeria when they meet in Lusaka on Saturday).
Cameroon started the stronger of the two teams, settling quickly into a passing rhythm and also pressing high up the pitch to make it difficult for the hosts to play out from the back.
However, Nigeria soon went up a couple of gears and began to dominate. Their first hint of a goal arrived in the 24th minute when Victor Moses’s free kick passed through the box and found the back of the net, but was ruled out for offside.
Yet it was only five more minutes until the Super Eagles broke the deadlock: striker Odion Ighalo outmuscled defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui to win a long ball before cutting inside and scoring with a superb low finish.
Cameroon needed goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa to make a terrific save on 36 minutes to keep out a goal-bound effort from Moses Simon, but there was nothing he could do six minutes later when John Obi Mikel made it 2-0, getting ahead of his marker to meet Moses’s corner kick and toe-poke the ball home from close range.
Nigeria added a third goal just 10 minutes into the second half, with a speedy counter attack seeing Moses exchange passes with fellow wideman Simon before firing home a low shot to effectively end the match as a contest.
And Cameroon’s match went from bad to worse when half-time substitute Eric Choupo-Moting pulled up with an injury and had to be replaced just before the hour mark.
Nigeria put the cherry on top with a fourth goal in the 76th minute: Moses and Ogenyi Onazi combined superbly down the right flank to hand substitute Kelechi Iheanacho a simple header into an almost empty net.
The teams will meet again for the return game in Yaounde on Monday evening, with the Indomitable Lions seeking redemption for this embarrassing defeat.
Nigeria (2) 4 (Ighalo 29’, Mikel 42’, Moses 55’, Iheanacho 76’)