Nigeria overwhelm Algeria to top group
POLOKWANE (South Africa): Victor Moses scored twice and John Obi Mikel added the other as Nigeria went four points clear in the 2018 World Cup qualification with a 3-1 home win over Algeria in Uyo on Saturday.
Burkina Faso and Uganda are also top of their respective groups after success on Saturday but Senegal, among the favourites to qualify for Russia 2018, suffered a setback under controversial circumstances in South Africa.
Nigeria won a second match in Group â€˜Bâ€™, after an away victory in Zambia last month, with Moses opening the scoring after 25 minutes when a fortuitous one-two was played off Algeria defender Hicham Belkaroui and allowed him to tuck away the ball.
Obi Mikel added a second in unusual circumstances. Both the Nigeria captain and the Algerian backline presumed Obi Mikel was offside after a ball was scooped over a static defensive line.
For a split second all stood still in anticipation of a flag from the linesmen or whistle from the referee but neither came, leaving Obi Mikel to react quickest and calmly slot home in the 42nd minute.
A long-range rocket from Nabil Bentaleb reduced the deficit in the 67th minute but Moses grabbed his second in stoppage time at the end after a counter attack move found him unmarked at the back post for an easy conversion.
Defeat leaves Algeria, who went to the second round of last World Cup in Brazil, in deep danger of missing out on Russia as they were left bottom on one point, along with Zambia, who grabbed an unexpected 1-1 draw away at Cameroon in Limbe.
Striker Collins Mbesuma slid home a square pass for a 34th minute opener but Cameroon equalised on the stroke of half-time when Vincent Aboubakar converted a penalty. Cameroon have two points.
Hosts South Africa were handed a soft penalty two minutes before halftime in their Group â€˜Dâ€™ clash with Senegal in Polokwane which captain Thulani Hlatshwayo converted.
Television replays showed it was a mistake by the referee but while incensed Senegalese player were still berating the officials two minutes later, they got caught by a quickly taken free-kick that saw Thulani Serero finish for a 2-0 home lead at the break.
Senegal, with Sadio Mane leading their attack, laid siege to the home sideâ€™s goal after Cheikh Ndoye pulled one back but ran out of time in their bid for an equaliser.
South Africa have four points in the group, behind Burkina Faso on goal difference after they beat Cape Verde 2-0.
Farouk Miyaâ€™s 18th minute strike allowed Uganda to beat Congo 1-0 in Kampala to top Group â€˜Eâ€™.
Saturdayâ€™s two matches in Group â€˜Câ€™ both ended goalless as the Ivory Coast drew in Morocco and Gabon held Mali.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2016