Iwobi sends Nigeria to third straight World Cup

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to fire Nigeria to Russia 2018 and end the qualification hopes of Group B rival Zambia.

Alex Iwobi scored the winning goal in the 73rd minute.   -  Getty Images

Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi sent Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup finals with the winning goal in a 1-0 African qualifying victory over Zambia on Saturday.

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The Super Eagles became the first African team to advance to Russia after taking an unassailable lead atop Group B. It will be the team's sixth World Cup finals appearance.

Substitute Iwobi blasted home from a pullback by Shehu Abdullahi 17 minutes from time to secure qualification.

In a high tempo first half, Zambia thought it had taken the lead when Augustin Mulenga bundled home but his 23rd minute effort was disallowed for offside. In the 36th minute, Zambia striker Alex Ngonga, whose pace troubled the Nigeria defence throughout, forced goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa to parry the ball behind for a corner.

Better team

The Super Eagles peppered the Zambian goal with shots in the closing minutes of the first half, but skipper Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo and Moses Simon all failed to trouble Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

Nigeria was the brighter of the two teams after the break as Wilfred Ndidi saw his looping header pushed away by Mweene.

The Eagles carved out the better chances, although Zambia looked dangerous on the counter attack until Iwobi settled the affair and sent Nigeria to the World Cup finals.