Nigeria went two goals ahead then conceded two late strikes in the space of five second half minutes to open the door for Ukraine to drag the encounter into an interesting stalemate.
Joseph Aribo opened the scoring on his debut for the Super Eagles after fine work from first Samuel Kalu, then Alex Iwobi. Lille hotshot Victor Osimhen then smashed home the second from the penalty spot to hand the Super Eagles a two goal lead into the break.
Ukraine however struck back twice as the game wound to an end to force a stalemate.
Soccernet.ng looks at the five biggest talking points that can be deduced from the match.
Semi Ajayi is the real juice
How in the Seven Kingdoms did this beauty of a defender miss the squad that went to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations? This lad got dropped for Leon Balogun?
A sort of ice wall, Ajayi rarely put a foot wrong, even teasing the Ukrainian attackers with his natural ability to hold on to the ball, confidence to pass it with ease and defensive instincts to snuff out danger.
No man is perfect but it would not be out of place if the West Brom defender had a ten out of ten ratings for his endeavour but for the two goals that got past his defence line.
Immaculate on the ground, commanding in the air, Semi Ajayi would have been harvesting applause at the end of the game but for that five mad moments in the second half when the whole team switched off.
Kenneth Omeruo should be looking over his shoulders because any glitch and his jersey would be ripped off him by Ajayi, and no one would complain.
Super Eagles flanks? Wild fire!
Samuel Kalu is back and Samuel Chukwueze is steroids on wheels. Nigeria’s first two goals came from the left flank where Kalu was a constant menace and a terror merchant.
Close ball control, pace on turbo and a sack load of tricks at high-dazzling levels, Kalu was the symbol of everything good about the Eagles going forward. He created the opening that led to Iwobi’s assist for the first goal and was also the player felled for the penalty that Osimhen converted.
Chukwueze was untouchable. The Villarreal winger got past his markers with ease and almost always seemed to be in ghost mode, skipping past challenges like they were not meant for him.
He is still raw, a bit two stingy and is decision making needs refining but the talent in there is undeniable and a further couple of years in Spain’s La Liga could see him become a world class star.
He may only be 26 years old but Ahmed Musa’s time has a starter on the wings in the national team may be coming to an unceremonious end.
Uzoho is up for the goalkeeping challenge
Nigeria needs a first choice goalkeeper and the Super Eagles number one jersey is up for grabs. After neither of Akpeyi, Ezenwa nor Uzoho laid valid claim to the spot in the past few years, Gernot Rohr was forced to invite a little known, Germany-based talent in Maduka Okoye.
But on the evidence of the Ukraine tie, Uzoho is clearly up for the fight. Two point blank saves in either half, an improved composure in the box and a better handling of the ball shows Francis Uzoho has come in leaps and bounds since is below par performance at the World Cup.
He shipped two goals in quick succession due to no particular fault of his and offered more in this game than he had offered in the last two years combined. The Maduka Okoye effect?
However, if Okoye thinks he’s going to walk straight into the team without a fight, then he probably has not been paying attention to that guy Uzoho.
Joe Aribo is the new Austin Jay Jay Okocha
Okay, may be that’s taking it a tad too far but the Glasgow Rangers midfielder was worthy of the number ten jersey he wore on the night. Not since the former Bolton Wanderers’ skipper and magician have we seen any Nigerian player draw so close to being an artist on the pitch.
Yet, on his full debut as an Eagle, Aribo was a delight to watch, the ball seemingly glued to his feet and the Yellow Men completely lost as to how to rob him of it.
Heck, the boy can dribble and has incredible energy to push play from box to box.
Add to that the positional intelligence and the in-box awareness he showed to grab a goal on his debut. This lad is going places and Super Eagles fans should be delighted that he is embarking on that journey wearing the green and white proudly.
Alex Iwobi may be Jay Jay’s nephew but Austin Okocha’s heir is here. All hail Ayodele Aribo!
Attack great; defence work in progress
For 75 minutes, the Super Eagles were absolutely fantastic going forward and decent at the back. In five minutes, though, the team threw away all its fine work when it seemed easier to win than draw.
For anyone who still retains questions and doubts regarding the poaching abilities of Victor Osimhen, the Lille forward has answered in a way all great goalscorers do: scoring on his full debut for the senior side.
Remind me, who is Odion Ighalo? With all due respect to the retired striker, he might not be missed that much should Osimhen continue like this.
Aside his pace, power and poise, Victor showed genuine hunger, a desire that is as passionate as it is obsessive and an ability on the ball that is beyond is young age.
He was a handful for Ukraine’s defenders all night. But for the wastefulness of Chukwueze, the former Sporting Charleroi striker would have punished the home side more than his solitary strike.
Iwobi did well as did Etebo who appeared to miss the calming influence of Wilfred Ndidi, his regular partner in crime. There was a far more pleasing teamwork and chemistry between the forward players when on the attack, so much so that the Super Eagles could and should have scored more than two.
But the attack would ultimately rue those missed chances and the defense would suffer from a lapse in concentration, belatedly allowing Andriy Shevchenko’s men a chance to draw level when a loss appeared a forgone conclusion.
A pleasant evening and an enjoyable match of football however ended in stalemate as Nigeria and Ukraine battle out a 2-2 draw at the Dnipro Arena, Ukraine.