Nigeria player ratings vs. Libya: Which Super Eagles impressed?
Odion Ighalo will hog the headlines after helping himself to a hat-trick as Nigeria overcame early nerves to despatch Libya 4-0 in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo on Saturday.
Rookie Jamilu Collins impressed, as did Samuel Kalu, who started only his second game for the Super Eagles
The only blot in Nigeria's copybook was an early injury to Shehu Abdullahi, who will not feature in the return leg in three days.
The hat-trick for the unfairly and much-maligned Odion Ighalo, who would have felt some goosebumps as fans chanted his name in adulation when he was subbed off, will have won the China-based forward many admirers
There was also a clean sheet, helped by that incredible first-half save from Francis Uzoho, and of course, the admirable all-round team performance.
For the second game running, a handsome win was marred by injury to a defender with Shehu going off early, as Chidozie Awaziem did in the second half against Seychelles.
Outside of that, the Super Eagles need to work on their decision-making in the final third; there was too much hunting for personal glory when a teammate was better positioned.
Manager rating (out of 10)
9 - Gernot Rohr
The German started Collins ahead of Brian Idowu, who was not even named in the matchday squad.
His team struggled early on, but it is a credit to his methods that they did not panic, stayed the course and prevailed.
Rohr's decision to stick by Ighalo was also richly rewarded, and Rohr deserves a tonne of credit for that.
Player Ratings (out of 10, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Francis Uzoho 8
Looked a bit nervy with the ball at his feet early on the game, but pulled off a stupendous point-blank save that Vincent Enyeama would have been proud of.
He needs to invest plenty of time in his footwork, as there were similar nerves in the last game against Seychelles.
DF Shehu Abdullahi N/R
Played only 17 minutes before being subbed off with an injury. No rating
DF Jamilu Collins 7
Started for the first time in place of Idowu. Looked a bit out of place early on, but also overcame those nerves to play such an influential part of the game.
Only the woodwork denied him scoring with a fine chip.
DF Leon Balogun 7
Struggled against the strength and skill of the lanky Anis Saltou for most of the first half. Lost much of his aerial contests, but plugged on and just kept making tracking tackles.
DF William Troost-Ekong 8
Commanding performance from the Udinese man, who kept having to cover for his partner while fighting his own battles with with both Libyan forwards Abdussalam and Saltou.
Never gave up on a ball, and even when he slipped twice, he still recovered to clear first.
MF Oghenekaro Etebo 8
Lost his place to Ogenyi Onazi in the last game, and probably only started because of injury to the Trabzonspor man.
Looked like he was fighting tooth and nail to get back and win the shirt on a permanent basis.
Stayed disciplined, chased down lost causes and passed the ball well.
MF Wilfred Ndidi 8
One of very few players who was imperious from the get go.
Ndidi let very little get past him, covered for his full-backs when they looked like they were struggling, and had two good chances to get on the scoresheet.
Notably, he sent a header against the crossbar in the first half.
MF Alex Iwobi 8
Deployed in the central attacking-midfield role, Iwobi cut a peripheral figure in the opening minutes.
However, the moment he started finding his range and picking passes, he was unplayable.
He picked out Collins with the sneak pass that almost led to the goal, and then set up Ighalo for his second goal.
FW Ahmed Musa 9
He may not have scored, but this was another fine game for the stand-in captain.
Musa got himself in good positions, tracked back to help his full-back, pinched into the middle to make tackles - earning a yellow card in the process - and then set up Ighalo for his third with a low cross
FW Samuel Kalu 8
Last time out, Kalu earned Man of the Match honours against Seychelles.
On his home debut, he looked a shadow of that player, giving away the ball and making tardy crosses.
However, he impressed after the break and became a beast of a player in the second half, turning players inside out, and capping his fine showing with a curling effort for Nigeria's fourth.
FW Odion Ighalo 10 (MOTM)
It is a rare that a player gets a 10 in these player ratings, but few will argue that Ighalo deserves it.
He did everything on the day; hustled the defence, linked up play effectively, and forced the goalkeeper into a mistake from which he won and scored a penalty.
He also rounded Muhammad Nashnoush and kept his head to score his second, before digging the ball from under his feet to poke home and complete his hat-trick.
It was a complete striker's performance, and one which was duly appreciated by the fans who belted out his name as he went off.
DF Ola Aina 7
This looks to be a day of slow starts.
Introduced within the opening 20 minutes, he looked tentative and gave the ball away a few times, but grew into the game.
Such was his confidence in the second half, that he he stripped Mohamad Abdussalam right inside his own box with a strong tackle just before the half-time whistle.
MF Isaac Success N/R
FW Henry Onyekuru N/R