Nigeria on Thursday secured safe passage from the Group Stage at the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a 1-1 draw against Ukraine.

A second-half penalty by Tijani Muhamed cancelled out Danylo Sikan’s towering header and saw the Flying Eagles progress as one of four best third-placed teams.

Nigeria made five changes to the starting line-up from the side that was defeated by the USA in the previous match. Nathan Ofoborh made his first start of the competition, as did Igoh Ogbu and Success Makanjuola.

Paul Aigbogun’s side immediately monopolized the possession, but struggled to create any concrete chances. Ukraine sat back, but carried a threat on the break.

The patience of Oleksandr Petrakov’s side was rewarded on the half-hour mark, as Oleksii Kashchuk’s deep cross was misjudged by Olawale Oremade in the Nigeria goal, allowing Sikan to head into an unguarded net.

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Nigeria got a lifeline on the strike of half time. Tijani was barged to the ground inside the box, and referee Fernando Rapallini pointed to the spot for a penalty. The resulting kick, taken by the towering striker himself, was brilliantly saved by Andriy Lunin.

Six minutes after the restart, the Flying Eagles were again awarded a penalty, this time for a handball inside the box by Denys Popov. This time, Tijani sent Lunin the wrong way to bring the game level.

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Ukraine finished top of Group D with seven points, with USA coming in second. Nigeria amassed  four, with a goal difference of +2, a good enough haul to advance in third place.

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