Ukraine goalkeeper Leonid Musin's unfortunate stumble allowed a speculative chip from hulking fullback Taye Taiwo to turn into an unlikely winner in the round of sixteen match from the Vijverberg Stadium in Doetinchem. Unable to free up their playmaker and talisman, Oleksandr Aliiev, Ukraine struggled to find the kind of form that had them much-feared in the group stages, while Nigeria - the better side on the day - booked a deserved spot in the last eight of the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005.
"Before the match we knew that we would have to put a lot of pressure on Ukraine's dangerous Aliiev and Artem Milevskyi. I was on my feet shouting at my defenders to concentrate on them all match long," remarked Nigeria boss Samson Siasia after the match."
The game opened to a nervous, over-tough back-and-fourth from both sides. With the jangling nerves that inevitably accompany the knockout rounds of any major tournament, neither the Nigerians nor their Ukrainian counterparts - both so lively and attack-minded in the group stages - could quite find a proper tempo in the first half.
Despite a few free kicks from dangerous positions, Ukrainian dynamo Oleksandr Aliiev from Kyiv was unable to find the type of inspiration that saw him lay claim to a peerless, 35-yard scorcher against Turkey. Looked after quite closely by Sani Kaita, it seemed the word had gotten out on the influential playmaker.
The first chance of any substance was 24 minutes in coming, and new man John Owoeri's tame try from 15 yards hardly troubled Musin. Though the finish was lacking, the individual approach work left the crowd gasping.
Ukraine - not to be outdone - marched right back up the other end with Volodymyr Samborskyy firing a shot in retaliation straightaway. But in keeping with the theme of the opening 45 minutes, Ambruse Vanzekin in the Nigerian goal hardly had to give it a second thought.
The best chance of the half came from a lightning-quick Nigerian counter-attack. Collecting the ball on the left, Promise Isaac lashed in a low cross that Chinedu Ogbuke failed to control well enough. Musin came roaring off his line and the two collapsed in a heap after a mighty collision in minute 31.
And with the Europeans having only one shot on target and Aliiev continuing to struggle for form, the Africans were kicking themselves for not having capitalised on their first-half edge.
They managed to up the tempo early in the second half, though. A ferocious free kick from Owoeri in minute 52 had Musin scrambling to turn it round the corner.
But Aliiev, pushing farther forward in attack, was beginning to find some time and space. Nigeria coach Siasia, quickly alerted to the new danger, brought on defender Olubayo Adefemi for Kennedy Chinwo in order to corral the fiery creator.
Owoeri, substitute for Nigeria's first round matches, was looking a constant threat. A fine run and strike in minute 72 looked like an opener. But, once again, Musin was equal to the task.
Just as it looked like extra time for sure, Nigeria stole an unlikely goal from the unlikeliest of sources. Marking back Taye Taiwo - who had little to do aside from chase Dmytro Vorobei around all afternoon, took a pass from a short corner and lofted in a hopeful, curling ball toward the Ukraine goal from an impossible angle.
Back-peddling clumsily, the towering Musin lost his footing and could only watch as the ball sailed mournfully over his head and in at the back post (1:0, 80').
"Sure it was a bit of a lucky goal," Siasia added after the match. "But you need luck in football. Our preparation was not great for this tournament so it is a bit of a miracle that we've come so far. Now we are just hoping to keep getting better with every match and see how far we can go."
"We created more chances," he added. "And in the end I think we deserved the win." With eight shots on goal to Ukraine's one, Siasia's assessment has more than a little statistical backing.