Nigeria moved on to the next level in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals after defeating South Africa 2-1 in a quarter-final match on Wednesday night.
Gernot Rohr made two changes to the team which faced 2017 champions Cameroon in the Round of 16, with Ola Aina replaced by fit-again full-back Jamilu Collins in the starting line-up, while Samuel Chukwueze ousted fellow attacker Moses Simon.
On the other hand, Stuart Baxter named an unchanged team with Thembinkosi Lorch, who netted the goal which earned Bafana Bafana a 1-0 win over the tournament hosts Egypt, making his second successive start.
The match got off to a lively start with both teams searching for an early goal, but neither could land a shot on target in the opening stages of the encounter.
Nigeria’s midfield maestro Wilfred Ndidi fired a powerful long-range shot which flew over the crossbar, before Lorch placed his effort wide of the target at the other end.
The Super Eagles grew into the match with Collins looking lively down the left-hand side and he was involved when the deadlock was broken in the 27th minute.
Bafana failed to clear the Germany-based full-back’s low cross and Chukwuezepounced, beating South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams from close range to make 1-0 to Nigeria.
South Africa tried to respond with a goal and the last chance of the first-half went to them, but Lebogang Mothiba’s free-kick was blocked by the wall on the edge of the penalty box.
The Super Eagles were the better side after the restart and they came close to doubling their lead through Oghenekaro Etebo.
The diminutive midfielder’s curling free-kick was brilliantly finger-tipped onto the crossbar by SuperSport United shot-stopper Williams as Bafana survived a scare.
Bafana were able to launch promising attacks following the introduction of Themba Zwane, who replaced the ineffective Lorch.
Bongani Zungu scored with a header from Percy Tau’s free-kick with lanky midfielder netting his scored goal of the tournament, but it was ruled out for offside.
Match referee Rédouane Jiyed then consulted with Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and the goal was awarded to make it 1-1 with 19 minutes left on the clock.
However, Bafana lost concentration in the closing stages of the game and they were punished by Troost-Ekong.
An unmarked Troost-Ekong fired home from second-half substitute Simon’s corner-kick in the 89th minute, after Williams failed to claim the ball, to seal Nigeria’s 2-1 victory over South Africa.
The Super Eagles will now take on the winner between Algeria and Ivory Coast in a semi-final clash on Sunday, while Bafana bow out of the tournament.