Nigeria took Ethiopia to the cleaners to raise their hopes of qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, with braces from Peter Utaka and Ikechukwu Uche.
The goals from Peter Utaka and just-returned-from-injury striker Ikechukwu Uche were all that the Super Eagles needed to maintain their race for a ticket after Madagascar held Group B leaders Guinea to a 1-1 draw in Antananarivo in an early game.
Victor Anichebe set up Utaka to slot into the Ethiopians’ net in the first minute of the game. It was a goal that calmed the nerves of the home team after their top strikers were put on the bench.
Nigeria went on to miss many chances through Utaka, Anichebe, Ahmed Musa, Joel Obi and Taye Taiwo in the first half.
Utaka doubled the lead of the home team on 53 mins as he rounded the Ethiopian goalkeeper to send the stadium into raptures.
Substitute Uche stabbed home the third goal on 77 mins after great work from fellow sub Osaze Odemwingie to ensure that the Ethiopians could not find their way back into the game.
The introduction of both Odemwingie and Uche for both front men Anichebe and Utaka enlivened the Nigerian frontline as the game wore on. It countered the attack of the Antelopes that was led by the energetic Tikru Tefera.
However, Uche scored his second of the night from a screaming shot at injury time to cap a glorious return to the Eagles after more than a year out.
Nigeria now have six points, one behind leaders Guinea as the race for the group ticket hots up.