Nigeria overcame a nervy first half to record a 2-0 victory over Chad in a fiery Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Kaduna.
Stephen Keshi’s side were made to wait over an hour before breaking the deadlock on Saturday, Gbolahan Salami eventually finding a way through before Odion Ighalo doubled their advantage with his first international strike.
Watford striker Ighalo netted from the penalty spot with 11 minutes remaining, moments after team-mate Ogenyi Onazi had been sent off.
Keshi’s side made a promising start to proceedings in Kaduna with the best of the early chances, but they lacked quality in the final third as Kingsley Madu and Musa Ahmed were both wasteful.
Chad were not overawed and should have been ahead after 17 minutes, but captain Marius Mbaiam’s shot was deflected wide.
A half full of chances concluded with Salami firing straight at Mbaradji Dillah in the Chad goal, before Vincent Enyeama produced a fine reflex save to keep the scores level.
Eventually Nigeria’s pressure told as Salami latched onto a loose ball in the penalty area and blasted high into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
Ighalo completed the win late on, but his penalty came after a skirmish following the awarding of the spot kick, Onazi lashing out as Chad’s players remonstrated with the officials, earning himself a red card.
The delay did not affect substitute Ighalo’s concentration, though, as he rolled the spot kick home to give Nigeria a winning start in Group G.
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