The 10-man Flying Eagles lost out of the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup to South Americans Uruguay.
Nicolas Lopez’s brace in the second half after Abdulahi Shehu was sent off few minutes before the interval, with Olarenwaju Kayode briefly pulling Nigeria level, ended the tightly-contested 2-1 encounter.
The Flying Eagles will have to wait until the next edition to get their Under-20 World title hopes back on track again.
Nigeria got off to a good start and came close when Aminu Umar got in behind the Uruguayan defence, but Kayode could not turn the ball in.
While the first half failed to ignite, coach John Sam Obuh’s side fared little better, as the Uruguayans failed to find their rhythm.
With the half-time looming, Nigeria finally brought a save from goalkeeper Guillermo De Amores. A cross from Shehu found Umar at the far side of the box, but his well-controlled, side-footed volley lacked proper direction as it went straight at the hands of the goalkeeper.
Shortly after, the Nigerians were reduced to ten men.Shehu received a straight red for a reckless challenge on Diego Laxalt.
Soon as the second-half got underway, Uruaguay sparked up their game and should have taken the lead when Laxalt’s bouncing volley almost went past Chukwunenye Okani, before Manchester United’s new boy Guillermo Varela hit the inside of the post- but was ruled offside. Giorgian De Arrascaeta was next to test Okani, firing in a 30-yard free-kick, which the keeper palmed away.
The one-sided pressure continued against the ten men and it finally paved way for an opener.De Arrascaeta swung another free-kick into the area and when Gaston Silva got to the ball ahead of the keeper, Lopez was on hand to tap in.
Kayode scored a stunning equalizer to bring the proceedings back to life. Carrying the ball from the halfway line, he drove at a Uruguay defence that continued to retrogress before turning on to his right foot and tundering home from the edge of the area. Seconds later, Olaitan Michael brushed off the side-netting with another effort from range.
With Nigeria playing a ten-man formation, the game was wide open until a misjudgment by keeper Okani after getting into a foot race for a loose ball with Diego Rolan. The Bordeaux man beat him to the ball and skipped past him, before being brought down by Onyinye Ndidi in the box. Lopez stepped up and, coolly chipped in the spot kick beyond Okani.
Ndidi and Kingsley Madu went close to grabbing an equalizer again in stoppage time, but it was not to be, as Uruguay edged Nigeria into the last-eight.