- Nigeria's unbeaten run ended as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Brazil in a thrilling encounter, marking the conclusion of Group D in the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup held in Argentina.
The Flying Eagles were left to rue missed opportunities, twice denied by the woodwork, while goals from Jean Pedroso and Arsenal's Marquinhos secured a decisive victory for the South Americans.
From the onset, Nigeria exhibited resilience, going toe-to-toe with their Brazilian counterparts.
Within the opening ten minutes, they should have taken the lead when Emmanuel Umeh darted past his marker, delivering an exquisite cross to Jude Sunday at the back post. Sunday met the cross with a daring volley that struck the crossbar, grazing the goal line before bouncing out. VAR intervened to confirm that the ball had not fully crossed over.
Brazil responded swiftly with a dangerous counter-attack, but Marcos Leonardo's final pass lacked precision, squandering the golden opportunity.
Gradually, the Brazilians gained momentum, earning a series of set-pieces in threatening positions. Nonetheless, the Flying Eagles displayed commendable defensive resolve, successfully thwarting their opponents' advances.
Midway through the first half, Nigeria carved out a chance as Sunday, and Salem Fago combined effectively, resulting in Fago's shot from the edge of the box, which failed to trouble Brazil's goalkeeper, Mycael.
At the 30-minute mark, the Brazilians squandered their best chance when Leonardos inexplicably volleyed over the crossbar from a sublime Bird cross, with goalkeeper Aniagboso already beaten.
Nigeria's misfortunes compounded as Brazil capitalized on a corner kick minutes before halftime.
Jean Pedroso leaped highest, directing a powerful header into the net, handing the South Americans a well-deserved lead.
Unrelenting, Brazil quickly added to their tally as Arsenal forward, Marquinhos expertly finished off another swift counter-attack, slotting the ball beneath Aniagboso's dive.
Ten minutes into the second half, Aniagboso redeemed himself by producing a magnificent save to deny Brazil a third goal.
Despite their relentless efforts, Nigeria struggled to find the back of the net.
Substitute Haliru Sarki came close to reducing the deficit with a thunderous strike from outside the box, only to be denied by Mycael's acrobatic save, pushing the ball onto the crossbar.
Despite an improved display in the second half, Nigeria's arduous toil failed to yield results, as Ladan Bosso's young charges were left scoreless for the first time in Argentina 2023.
Looking ahead, the defeat sees the Flying Eagles stumble from the summit of Group D to third place, relinquishing the top spot to Brazil.
Italy, meanwhile, secured a second-place finish after convincingly defeating the Dominican Republic 3-0 in the concurrent match.
Nonetheless, Nigeria progresses to the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams, setting up a tantalizing encounter against either hosts Argentina or the United States of America