The Flying Eagles had beaten Qatar and bowed to the United States to enter their final Group D match, against already-qualified Ukraine, needing only a point to reach the knockout phase.
But Nigeria scarcely threatened in Bielsko Biala, as Okechukwu Weah started on the bench, and they were lackluster in front of goal instead.
CONFIRMED: 🇳🇬 Nigeria advance to Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides. 🇺🇦 Ukraine finish as Group D winners.#U20WC— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) May 30, 2019
The Europeans' early swagger showed no signs of abating, but they took the lead in the 32nd minute through Danylo Sikan, who headed home Oleksii Kashchuk's cross.
Paul Aigbogun’s boys hardly posed an attacking threat during the first-half, but took threw away a golden chance to level matters on the stroke of half-time.
Ukraine’s goalkeeper was called into action again midway through the first-half, getting down smartly to push Bryan Oviedo's drilled strike around the post.
Andriy Lunin saved Muhamed Tijani's penalty after VAR confirmed Oleksandr Safronov had fouled the former.
Five minutes into the second half, VAR handed Nigeria another chance after it confirmed Denys Popov handled Tijani's goal-bound shot.
The striker made amends for his first miss by firing past goalkeeper Lunin to even the scores at the Bielsko Biala Stadium.
Despite missing numerous chances in the closing minutes of the game, the Flying Eagles were able to rescue a point, sending the fortunate Africans through.