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ENGLISH VERSION

Football: Iheanacho’s brace hand Nigeria WCq winning start against Liberia

Les Super Eagles du Nigeria
Super Eagles line up

Kelechi Iheanacho was on target twice as Nigeria got off to a winning start in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers after a 2-0 victory over Liberia in their opening fixture in Lagos on Friday.

The West Africans were meeting for the sixth time in their history, with both teams going neck to neck for the first time in the competition since 2001 when the Super Eagles won the race for South Korea and Japan 2002 World Cup.

This time, Iheanacho's double in the first half of the encounter at the Teslim Balogun Stadium was all Gernot Rohr's men needed to make a clinical start into the bid to compete at their seventh global showpiece next year.

The Super Eagles made a bright start to the encounter as they created several chances and enjoyed most of the possession. notably when Joe Aribo almost opened the scoring inside the first 20 minutes.

Moments after goalkeeper Ashley Williams denied Aribo, Iheanacho broke the deadlock for the hosts as he netted his first goal of the game off a superb corner-kick from Everton star Alex Iwobi in the 23rd minute.

The visitors best chance came through captain Allen Njie but could not get past Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Maduka Okoye before Iwobi's header set up Leicester City star to complete his double on the struck of half-time.

After the restart, Nigeria kept up their charge but could not add more goals despite treble-searching Iheanacho, Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon and substitute Paul Onuachu came close in the second half of the encounter.

Following his double, Iheanacho took his international tally to 11 goals and inches closer to matching Jay-Jay Okocha and Julius Aghahowa's record of 14 goals in the Super Eagles shirt.

For his goals, Iheanacho was voted the Man of the Match plus one million naira, while Iwobi who assisted the former Manchester City man went home with another one million naira as the Most Valuable Player.

With the triumph, Nigeria go to top of the Group C standing with three points after their opponents Cape Verde and Central African Republic shared a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

Rohr's men will continue their bid to 2022 World Cup with a trip to Cape Verde for their second group match on September 7 while Liberia confront Central African Republic on Monday.

Samuel Ahmadu

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