Nigeria took a step closer to becoming Africa Cup of Nations champions after Ronwen Williams' late error gifted William Troost-Ekong a late winner in a 2-1 triumph over South Africa in Thursday's (AEST) quarter-final.
Bafana Bafana, who shocked hosts Egypt in the previous round, had equalised with 19 minutes remaining in Cairo when Bongani Zungu headed home and the match was seemingly headed for extra-time.
But Troost-Ekong bundled home in the 89th-minute minute after Williams made a hash of a corner to dash South Africa's hopes of progressing and left Nigeria still chasing their dream of a fourth AFCON title.
It was a just result for a Nigeria team after they had largely dominated and led in the 27th minute through Samuel Chukwueze, who was part of a lively Nigeria front four that opened South Africa up several times
The result extends South Africa's record of never having beaten Nigeria at the Cup of Nations, while Gernot Rohr's men moved into the last four – where Ivory Coast of Algeria await - with a disciplined, determined performance.
After a cagey opening spell that saw Nigeria dominate possession without creating any clear chances, the dangerous Alex Iwobi broke down the left wing and crossed to the feet of Chukwueze, who side-footed into the net from six yards at the second attempt.
Peter Etebo curled a free-kick towards the top corner of the net five minutes into the second half but Williams made a superb one-handed save, pushing the ball up onto the crossbar and out of play.
Just as it looked as though South Africa were running out of steam, Percy Tau's free-kick deflected off Odion Ighalo's shoulder and Zungu looped a header into the net, with a VAR consultation helping the referee to overturn his initial offside decision and award the equaliser.
Nigeria piled forward in search of a winner and were rewarded with one minute left in regular time when Moses Simon floated a corner into the box and Williams swung wildly at the delivery with his fist, allowing Troost-Ekong to bundle home as the ball dropped kindly on to his leg in a painful moment for the 27-year-old goalkeeper.
Key Opta Facts:
- Nigeria have qualified from nine of their 10 quarter-final appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations
- South Africa have been eliminated in their last three appearances in the quarter-finals of the competition, after qualifying in the first three.
- Samuel Chukwueze became the youngest scorer at the Total Africa Cup of Nations 2019 (20 years and 49 days). He has scored his first goal during his fourth game in the competition.