Nigeria fought from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Ukraine in the FIFA U20 World Cup at the Bielsko Biala Stadium on Thursday night.
With the result, Nigeria finished third in Group D with four points from three games.
The Paul Aigbogun boys advanced to the round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides, or “best losers” as it is referred to in Nigerian parlance.
Flying Eagles were hit with two major injuries going into the game; centre-back Valentine Ozornwafor was not available due to a groin problem, while defensive midfielder Jamilu Mohammed was ruled out of the competition due to injury.
Success Makanjuola, Aniekeme Okon, Ugbo Igoh and Nnamdi Ofoborh were deservedly handed their first start of the competition.
Danylo Sikan drew the Eastern Europe side went ahead on the half hour. Sikan stole behind the post to head home after goalkeeper Olawale Oremade couldn’t get his fist to the ball.
Nigeria should have levelled up before half time when Tijani Mohammed lined up a spot kick. The Banik Ostrava forward was denied from the penalty spot as goalkeeper Andriy Lunin guessed the right way.
The Flying Eagles stormed off the locker room with renewed belief and vigour. They were rewarded in the 51st minute through a VAR adjudged penalty after a defender held the ball in the box following pressure from Tijani.
This time Tijani dusted himself off to send the keeper the wrong way. Both sides wasted chances to find the winner as the game ended 1-1.