Two late penalties from Victor Moses saved Nigeria from an embarrassing CAF Africa Cup of Nations exit as they booked their place in the quarter-finals with victory over Ethiopia.
The Super Eagles were heading out of the competition because of their disciplinary record until Moses, who won both spot-kicks, netted the first in the 79th minute. And he repeated the trick in the 90th minute, scoring past midfielder Addis Hintsa after goalkeeper Sisay Bancha had been sent off for conceding the penalty. Ethiopia had already used all their substitutes.
The goals got Nigeria out of jail, after they had dominated without managing to find a way past their opponents. A goalless draw would have seen them eliminated on a fair play system, with holders Zambia the side set to profit.
Nigeria started brightly and Efe Ambrose headed over from a Moses free-kick after only two minutes.
Ethiopia came into the game bottom of the pool, but still in with a shout of going through. And they threatened when Dawit Estifanos swung in a corner, which Saladin Said headed over.
But for the most part they were on the back foot and Ikechukwu Uche headed another Moses free-kick over the top, while Uwa Elderson Echiejile met another Moses ball in and brought a parry out of Sisay.
Nigeria had a golden chance to take the lead on the stroke of half-time when Kenneth Omeruo's shot fell kindly for Emmanuel Emenike in the area, but he blazed wildly over the bar.
The Nigeria fans were starting to lose patience with their side's failure to make the breakthrough, having seen them concede late equalisers in their previous two matches.
Godfrey Oboabona had a header cleared off the line and keeper Sisay needed two attempts to clutch a Sunday Mba shot before Moses finally calmed the nerves. The Chelsea man was chopped down by Alula Girma as he broke into the area to win a penalty, which he placed coolly into the bottom right corner.
Ethiopia almost grabbed an equaliser only for Nigeria keeper Vincent Enyeama to pulled off a fine save from Saladin.
But Moses made sure of the points when he raced clear only to be sent flying by Sisay. A penalty was the decision and the keeper shown a second yellow card. Hintsa was finally handed the gloves, but Moses beat him easily from the spot, this time going low to the opposite left corner, to send Nigeria through.
This must surely rank as the worst performance in any competition involving a Nigerian team that I have ever been unfortunate enough to watch in a long while - I am so so disappointed. No thrust at all, absolutely disgusting and lacking in any pride. Keshi just has to go, win or no win!
Very pedestrian affair..
Our boys are still playing 'big-man' football
crappy and uninspiring
All we are saayiing! Give us one goaal!
Chei chei chei I no just fit believe my eye. This is Naija against Ethiopia for God's sake.
so where's the much-talked-about Ethiopian tiki-taka? If those guys stop respecting Nigeria, they can win the match.
very weak and poor first half..happy the referee stopped the lazy goat.gerians
As things stand, Burkina and Zambia go through
No finisher on the Nigerian side. What a shame!
into 2 half..we gonna see wat dos lazy goat.gerians gonna do.. i hate seeing matured men romancing a fucckking round ding..indeed
Just caught the last few minutes of the first half and now second half... I could not believe it was still 0-0 what is wrong with these boys?