Nigeria put one foot in the 2014 World Cup finals as an Emmanuel Emenike double secured a 2-1 first-leg win over Ethiopia in their qualifying play-off clash in Addis Ababa on Sunday afternoon.
The Walia Antelopes opened the scoring 12 minutes after the restart as Samson Asefa’s cross-come-shot somehow found its way over the line, but Emenike leveled things up 10 minutes later before snatching the winner from the penalty spot in the final minute of regulation time.
The hosts looked to make a strong start and played the ball around wonderfully in the opening stages, keeping possession well, although the first chance fell to the Super Eagles as Victor Moses found himself on the end of loose ball, although the Liverpool striker blazed his effort woefully wide.
With 25 minutes gone the hosts thought they had opened the scoring as Salahdin Said skipped past two defenders before apparently prodding his shot over the line before Vincent Enyeama could claw the ball away, but the referee adjudged the keeper to have prevented the goal, controversially ruling the strike out and leaving the score still goalless.
Ethiopia continued to look the better side in the second period, and with 57 minutes gone they deservedly took the lead, with Asefa’s attempted delivery catching out goalkeeper and defender to just creep over the line, with the match official this time correctly awarding the goal.
The celebrations were short lived though as Stephen Keshi’s men began the turn-around, with Emenike showing plenty of power to forge a shooting chance, which he took with some aplomb, hammering a blockbuster strike past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The visitors thought they had won themselves a penalty midway through the second period as Ahmed Musa appeared to be brought down inside the area, but the referee, who was some way behind the play, looked over to his linesman who showed no movement, and as a result play continued uninterrupted.
With 13 minutes remaining Nigeria came desperately close to taking the lead, but Musa’s powerful drive from a tight angle cannoned off the up-right before being hacked clear by the defence.
In the final minute of the second-half Nigeria were handed a golden chance to take a priceless win back home as Abebaw Butako dragged down Emenike inside the area, and the striker made no mistake to calmly slot home from the resulting penalty to secure his brace and add a second invaluable away goal.