In one of the tournament's most dramatic matches so far, which exploded into life during the second half, Horst Hrubesch's side showed tremendous spirit and energy to cope with the sending off of Tobias Kempe and goals from Danny Uchechi and Rabiu Ibrahim, which had twice given the Nigerians the lead.
Richard Sukuta-Pasu had the game's first chance when he screwed a shot wide of the post after five minutes, but Nigeria quickly found their stride, particularly on the left side with Ibrahim and Uchechi looking particularly threatening. Yet it was from a right-wing cross from King Osanga that the Africans created their first real chance. Osanga played the ball to Odion Ighalo, who was lurking on the edge of the box, but he fired a shot just wide.
Sukuta-Pasu, Lewis Holtby and Kempe combined well midway through the first half before the latter fired tamely at Uche Okafor. There was another less than convincing effort from Ighalo which Zieler gathered extremely comfortably. But neither keeper was tested, and although Lukman Haruna's free-kick drew a few 'oohs' from the crowd, it went well over the crossbar.
The luckless Ighalo missed another chance after the half-hour mark when Osanga's corner dropped kindly for him, but he sliced a shot wide with the outside of his boot. Sukuta-Pasu placed a goalbound header into the turf from Funk's well-measured cross, but Okafor was equal to it.
Nigeria took the game to Germany at the start of the second half and took the lead in the 51st minute when Holtby played the ball straight to Osanga who crossed for Uchechi to head home. However, straight from kick-off, the Africans' concentration waned and the Europeans equalised. Bjorn Kopplin was given freedom to run down the left side, and with Okafor expecting a cross and committing himself, the defender slipped the ball inside the near post.
Initially, it looked like the game had turned in the 64th minute when Kempe was shown a straight red card for stamping on the knee of Nurudeen Orelesi. With the numerical disadvantage, Germany were stretched and the Flying Eagles almost took advantage when Ibrahim flew down the right and crossed for Uchechi, who was wasteful with the chance.
Nigeria took the lead for the second time in the game in the 68th minute when Orelesi ran at pace at the German defence before slipping a bobbling ball into the box, which Ibrahim did extremely well to control before firing past Zieler for his first goal of the tournament. Yet Germany refused to lie down and drew level seven minutes later. Once again, it was Kopplin, the earlier scorer, who was at the heart of the action. He drove down the left hand side and drew the ball back to substitute Mario Vrancic, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes and made no mistake from eight yards.
Uchechi should have wrapped the game up for Nigeria, but blazed over after being set-up by Ibrahim. And how that miss proved costly as Kopplin broke quickly from a Nigeria corner and ran half the length of the field before slipping the ball past the onrushing Okafor and just inside the post with virtually the last kick of the game.