Home-based Super Eagles defeated the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire 4-1 at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna.
Gambo Mohammed scored his first goal in only his second appearance for the national team in the 14th minute when he swiveled on the edge of the box and let fly a left-footer which beat the Elephants’ keeper.
Sunday Mba increased the tally with a half volley, following Ezekiel Mbah’s cross from the right wing.
The Super Eagles should have gotten the third goal from Gambo’s header in the 38th, but the goal was adjudged offside though the call had to be marginal at its best.
The Elephants pulled one back at the stroke of half-time as a defensive error from Ezekiel Mbah allowed Tiecoura Coulibaly to pass beyond goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim.
After the commencement of the second period, two red cards within two minutes changed the mentality of the encounter to the advantage of the Eagles.
An Ivoirian defender was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area off a corner kick and a penalty was awarded. Sunday Mba stepped forward to slot the ball past the goalkeeper.
Too much protestation saw a red card issued, another one, swiftly followed as Baresi was shown a second yellow card for a violent foul on Sunday Mba. The Super Eagles pressed afterwards, utilizing the extra space the ousted men had provided to lodge their attack in the Ivoirian’s half of the pitch.
The Eagles made their advantage pay in the 85th minute when a strong run down the right by Sunday Mba saw the Rangers man pull the ball back for Ifenyi Edeh to walk the ball in for the fourth goal.
Eagles emerged victorious ahead of the second leg, slated for late July in Abidjan.