Nigeria became the first African nation to book their place at next summer’s World Cup finals following a 2-0 win over Ethiopia in the second leg of their play-off in Calabar.
A Victor Moses penalty and a quickly taken Victor Obinna free kick secured a 4-1 aggregate success to end Ethiopia’s dream of appearing at their first-ever World Cup finals.
The Super Eagles had not been beaten in a World Cup qualifier at the UJ Esuene Stadium since 1981 and a 2-1 win in Addis Ababa last month ensured they were red-hot favourites to progress.
It took 20 minutes to extend their advantage through Moses after Ethiopia were whistled for handball in the area.
The Liverpool midfielder slid his penalty low to goalkeeper Sisay Bancha’s left, although the Ethiopia skipper did commit to his full-length dive the other way early.
Moses was booked for his shirtless celebration, that also involved cartwheeling down the sidelines, but that almost went unnoticed as the mood of the stadium started to take on a party scene.
Ethiopia boss Sewnet Bishaw had said before the match he was “100 per cent confident” that his side would overturn their disadvantage, but it never looked likely after their early setback.
Nigeria were able to coast for the majority of the contest, before finalising their World Cup place eight minutes from the end through Obinna.
The substitute took a free-kick early, with two other players hovering over it, although still Bancha should not have been caught out as he was.
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast qualified for its third World Cup with a 1-1 draw with Senegal.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Moussa Sow gave Senegal hope with a 77th minute penalty. But Ivory Coast grabbed an equaliser in injury time through Salomon Kalou, to give them a 4-2 aggregate win.