Odion Ighalo led the way with a hat-trick as Nigeria overpowered Libya 4-0 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Saturday.
Gernot Rohr’s side had squeezed past Seychelles in their last outing, but there was no late drama in a one-sided affair in Uyo.
Ighalo enjoyed a slice of good fortunes to secure his treble as the Super Eagles go into their return leg in Sfax as second-best team in Group E.
It took the three-time African champions just two minutes to race into the lead. Goalkeeper Mohamed Abdaula brought down Ighalo who was on a goal-bound move - prompting referee Jean-Jacques Ndala.
The Changchun Yatai made no mistakes in converting the resultant kick which sent Uyo fans into jubilation.
Eight minutes later, the 29-year-old forward went down to the challenge of Abdaula by the referee from DR Congo thumbed down penalty pleas from the Nigerians.
Libya almost got the equaliser in the 12th minute after Mohamed Abdussalam’s header was brilliantly saved by Francis Uzoho after Motasem Sabbou had launched a cross inside the Eagles’ penalty area.
The harvest of goals continued in the 58th minute as Ighalo collected a pass from Alex Iwobi - who capitalised on a careless moment from Ben Ali to slot past Abdauala.
Ighalo completed the second-half carnage with a fine simple goal after Ahmed Eltarbi had goofed Ahmed Musa’s cross.
Having enjoyed watching his team-mates run up the score, Samuel Kalu also found the back of the thanks to an assist from Henry Onyekuru.
It was a clinical victory for Nigeria and Ighalo will hog the headlines after an awe-inspiring performance that will raise the country’s hopes of making it to Cameroon 2019.