Brazil triumph in dramatic finish
The match had seemed inexorably destined for extra time until it took an incredible twist in stoppage time, Tochukwu Oluehi receiving her marching orders before the Auriverde snatched victory in the 96th minute from the free-kick that resulted from the Nigerian goalkeeper's offence.
"We made too many mistakes, in defence, midfield and attack," said Nigeria coach Emmanuel Tetteh Okonkwo afterwards, "and in the end it is those mistakes which have cost us this match," doubtless referring to his keeper's fatal rush of blood to the head.
Oluehi, who came into the team for the 8-0 win over Finland in place of the error-prone Christy Bulus, had kept her place between the sticks in an unchanged Falconets line-up, but it was her opposite number who saw most of the early action.
Brazil, for whom Pamela was a surprise inclusion up front, looked vulnerable to the Nigerians' quick, dynamic forays forward and, in 11 minutes, had the assistant referee to thank for the scoreline remaining blank.
The power and pace of Maureen Eke had seen her bulldoze her way through at the right-hand side of Brazil's box to slip the ball across for Rita Chikwell to fire home, but the flag was up immediately for offside and the Africans' exuberant celebrations quickly cut short.
Seeing an opener snatched from their grasp in such circumstances appeared temporarily to affect Nigeria's concentration and, before another minutes had elapsed, some lax marking in their erstwhile well-organised defence allowed Renata Costa a free header, which she glanced disappointingly wide of the far post.
This, though, was an isolated lapse in concentration, and the Nigerians' colourful band of singing, drum-beating fans were visibly buoyed by the fact that their team appeared to be enjoying the upper hand over the pre-match favourites.
All that was lacking in the Falconets' play was a cutting edge, and with eight minutes until half-time, captain Akudo Sabi attempted to show those in front of her how it's done, embarking on a swashbuckling run from the back before unleashing a 30-yard rocket that would have flown in had been a yard to either side of Barbara in the Brazilian goal.
Fabiana makes her mark
Yet, just as it appeared that they would be grateful to go into the half-time break on level terms, the Canarinhas came to life. First, Erika worked a neat one-two with Fabiana, feinted to shoot, skipped inside her flat-footed marker and sent the ball crashing against the crossbar and then, in first half stoppage time, Brazil snatched the lead.
Nigeria will have been disappointed with the marking that allowed Fabiana to meet Daiane's outswinging corner unopposed at the near post, but the Brazil striker certainly made no mistake with her header, sending it flashing past Oleuhi from 10 yards (1-0, 45+2').
Having dominated, Nigeria were now in trouble, and the situation could have become all but irretrievable within a minute of the second half kicking off when Pamela burst clean through and forced a fine save out of Oleuhi.
However, in Cynthia Uwak - scorer of two vital late goals against Canada - Okonkwo possesses a player who appears to thrive under pressure, and when the 20-year-old was played in by Chikwell, her side-foot finish into the far corner was as predictable as it was clinical (1-1, 65').
A nervy period followed, during which both sets of players opted for safety-first football, understandably wary of committing a costly error, which is exactly what happened when Oleuhi was sent off after racing from her goal to flatten Fabiana when the Brazil striker reached a 50-50 ball first.
Substitute goalkeeper Christy Bulus' first task was to touch Danielle's free-kick on to the bar; her second was to pick the ball out of the net, this after Adriane reacted quickest to head home the rebound, sparking scenes of unrestrained jubilation on the Brazilian bench (2-1, 90+6').
"The result doesn't matter to me - it's enough just to win," said Brazil coach Jorge Barcelos. "Against a team of Nigeria's quality, you are never going to win by any more than two goals, and both our teams play very equal football. As for the semi-finals, I have no preference about who we face . Anyone who wants to be a champion never worries too much about their next opponent."
Fabiana, whose bravery had earned her side this opportunity and, later, helped secure her the Player of the Match award, modestly played down her own role in the Auriverde triumph. "The Nigerians are very strong and we only won this match because we played as a team," she said. "I just tried to play on the shoulder of the defender, and that worked out very well."
Player of the Match: FABIANA
"Fabiana scored a very well-taken goal in the first half and was influential for Brazil in all their attacks," Fran Hilton-Smith (RSA), FIFA Technical Study Group .