The game that had been simmering along with both teams struggling to gain a meaningful advantage and the referees had been called on to make some big decisions, but none were bigger than the controversial goal/no goal farce which came a minute from the end, with the scores locked at 5-5.
Egyptian keeper Mohamed Issa clearly stopped the ball from spinning across his line, but referee Nuwer Kumar signalled a goal, to the horror of the Egyptians and the delight of the Nigerians and their legion of supporters.
Justice, as controversial as it was, was done when the decision was reversed, seemingly on the evidence of a video replay from the third referee, Mohammed Ibrahim.
The Nigerians claimed foul in no uncertain terms, but the decision stood and the match continued to extra time, when Nigerian Isiaka Olawale slipped the ball into the net with about 90 seconds to go before a penalty shootout.
The result was heartbreaking for Egypt as they must wait for other results to see if they can qualify for the semifinals as the best-placed second team in their log, while Nigeria qualify for today’s semifinals.
The match as a close encounter with neither team deserving to lose, but if anything separated the sides it was the quality of the Nigeria scores.
The match-winning strike from Isiaka was a run-of-the-mill field goal taken with aplomb, but it was completely overshadowed by his compatriots’ previous five goal-scoring shots which included two bicycle kick goals from Idowu Sewanu and by Yahaya Baba, and a scorcher from inside his own half from Victor Tale.