William Troost-Ekong’s penalty gave them the lead in the second half, before VAR drama saw Victor Osimhen’s goal chalked off and a penalty immediately awarded to South Africa in the same passage of play.
Teboho Mokoena slammed that spot-kick home to send the game to extra time, where little goalmouth action took place.
In the end, goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was Nigeria’s hero, saving two penalties as Nigeria progressed 4-2 from the shootout.
Dom Smith rated the Nigeria players’ performances...
Stanley Nwabali 8
Nigeria’s hero. On hand to make one impressive finger-tip save from Evidence Makgopa’s curling effort in the first half. Punched crosses clear, and was assured throughout. Saved from Mokoena and Makgopa in the shootout.
Semi Ajayi 6
Allowed South Africa a little more space down the left than he’d have liked, but mopped up well when called upon.
William Troost-Ekong 8
A domineering performance by Nigeria’s central defender and goalscorer. Defended confidently and scored a composed penalty in normal time before smashing his spot-kick in during the shootout.
Calvin Bassey 6
Worked hard on the left of the back three. Decent display for the Fulham man.
Bright Osayi-Samuel 6
Made one error when his backwards header handed South Africa a needlessly conceded corner kick. Did well to assist Victor Osimhen for Nigeria’s disallowed late goal.
Frank Onyeka 5
Had more chances to run forward as the game became stretched late on. Wasted a few opportunities by blazing over from range. Booked in extra time.
Alex Iwobi 6
Hit the target with a decent shot in the first half. Not his best performance in Super Eagles green.
Ola Aina 6
The Nottingham Forest wing-back won his duels and delivered crosses into the box whenever he had the chance. But his blazed spot-kick lost Nigeria their advantage in the shoot-out.
Moses Simon 5
A quiet night for the Nantes man, as most of Nigeria’s attacks went down the left side instead. Substituted after half an hour.
Victor Osimhen 7
Headed over from Osayi-Samuel’s second-half cross, before scoring Nigeria’s second from close range, only for VAR to disallow it.
Ademola Lookman 7
This was a lively and impressive performance from one of the tournament’s best players. Scared South Africa’s defence whenever he ran at them.
Alhassan Yusuf (Iwobi, 63’) 5
Made a few key interceptions in the closing minutes but then fouled Percy Tau to give South Africa their late leveller.
Samuel Chukwueze (Simon, 63’) 5
Didn’t get into the game.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Lookman, 102’) 6
Wasted the chance with a late free-kick when he under-hit the shot, but sent Nigeria to the final with his precise winning penalty.
Joe Aribo (Onyeka, 102’) 5
Struggled to impose himself despite entering the fray when play had opened up.
Terem Moffi (Osimhen, 110’) N/A
Scored his spot-kick.
Kenneth Omeruo (Osayi-Samuel, 120+2’) N/A
Not used: Uzuho, Musa, Bruno, Ojo, Awaziem, Nwadike