Odion Ighalo hit his first hat-trick for Nigeria as the Super Eagles defeated Libya 4-0 on Saturday in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The result moves Nigeria up to second in Group E – a point behind leaders South Africa who were emphatic 6-0 winners over Seychelles in Johannesburg, a record winning margin for Bafana Bafana.
In other results on Saturday, Namibia were 2-1 winners in Mozambique and Madagascar won 1-0 away to Equatorial Guinea.
Nigeria, who failed to qualify for the last two Nations Cups in 2015 and 2017, boosted their hopes of reaching Cameroon 2019 with a convincing win over previous Group E leaders Libya in Uyo.
Former Watford star Ighalo, now at Chinese side Changchun Yatai, set the Super Eagles on their way with a penalty in the fourth minute.
The 29-year-old struck again in the second half with a goal after 58 minutes and completed his hat-trick with 20 minutes remaining.
Samuel Kalu made it 4-0 for the hosts with a 90th-minute strike.
Libya’s preparations had been hampered after the sudden departure of their coach Adel Amrouche just days before the qualifier.
Earlier in Group E, South Africa achieved their biggest victory when they beat Seychelles 6-0 in Johannesburg.
The previous widest winning margin by Bafana Bafana was 5-0 at home to Guatemala in a friendly as they prepared to host the 2010 World Cup.
Three goals in a frenetic four-minute spell during the first half set South Africa on their way, starting with an own-goal from Nigel Hoareau after 23 minutes.
Thulani Hlatshwayo scored again for the hosts two minutes later with Lebo Mothiba adding a third after 27 minutes.
As the rain fell, Percy Tau struck after 74 minutes to make it 4-0 and China-based forward Dino Ndlovu justified his selection with a goal on 81 minutes.
Teboho Mokoena scored in injury time to give South Africa an emphatic victory over Seychelles who are bottom of the group, still looking for their first points.
In Kampala, Uganda kept up their push for a place at the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Cameroon with a 3-0 win over Lesotho in Group L.
Two goals from Emmanuel Okwi plus a Farouk Miya penalty gave the Cranes a victory which puts them top of the standings on seven points, three points clear of Cape Verde who beat Tanzania 3-0 on Friday.
Madagascar picked up three points away to Equatorial Guinea with a 1-0 victory in Bata in Group A.
Faneva Andriatsima’s 18th-minute strike was enough to put Madagascar top of the group, three points ahead of Senegal who were scheduled to play Sudan in Saturday’s late match.
Zimbabwe have a three-point lead over DR Congo in Group G after a 2-1 victory in Kinshasa.
Goals from Ronald Pfumbidzai and Knowledge Musona helped The Warriors secure a vital win. Yannick Bolasie struck a consolation goal late on for the hosts.
Group K is now the tightest of all the groups after Namibia’s last-gasp 2-1 victory away to Mozambique.
Mexer put Mozambique ahead in the first half with Namibia equalising through Petrus Shitembi after 69 minutes.
With the match heading for a draw, Deon Hotto struck a dramatic winner for Namibia in the 90th minute to secure the visitors the win.
The result means that all four teams in the group, which also includes Zambia and Guinea-Bissau, are on four points from three games.
The reverse fixtures will take place on Tuesday 16 October.
The twelve group winners and runners-up will secure places at the finals except in Group B, where next year’s hosts Cameroon and the highest placed of the other three teams will qualify.
Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying results
Group E: South Africa 6-0 Seychelles
Group L: Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
Group A: Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Madagascar
Group K: Mozambique 1-2 Namibia
Group E: Nigeria 4-0 Libya
Group G: DR Congo 1-2 Zimbabwe
Group I: Burkina Faso 3-0 Botswana
Group B: Morocco 1-0 Comoros
Group J: Tunisia 1-0 Niger
Group A: Senegal 3-0 Sudan