With Ethiopia and Zambia battling it out to a thrilling 1-1 draw in the early game, Nigeria and Burkina Faso were presented with a high bar in the follow-up. They lived up to it in an entertaining 1-1 draw of their own, with Alain Traore proving the hero with an injury time equaliser to deny the Super Eagles a win.
Nigeria needed to win in order to establish an early lead in Group C, and they came out all guns blazing. Chelsea's John Obi Mikel played a vital role in the opening stages, serving as the Super Eagles' playmaker from deep and threading several impressive passes out wide to open up Burkina Faso's defence.
Brown Ideye nearly opened the scoring when he latched onto an Ahmed Musa cross only to hammer well over goalkeeper's crossbar from close range, one of Mikel's long passes very nearly resulted in a penalty kick and then Ideye stole a header from Fengor Ogude when the latter looked set to find the back of the net.
The minnows were hardly there to sit around and absrob the pressure, however, and some lackadaisical defending from Josef Yobo led to a spell of pressure on Vincent Enyeama's goal that Nigeria did well to navigate. Then, in a flash, the favourites were ahead.
Mikel was the instigator once more, the midfielder launching a superb pass over the defence for Ideye to knock down into the penalty area. In a flash, Emmanuel Emenike was there, stealing between a pair of defenders to plant the ball past a helpless Abdoulaye Soulama.
The rest of the half followed the game's set pattern. Nigeria had the better of the chances but Burkina Faso were certainly competitive, doing a credible job in holding possession and moving around the football. It was clear that the Super Eagles needed to grab another goal in order to be entirely comfortable with their lead.
That need was emphasised early in the second half when Burkina Faso ripped open the Nigeria defence, with Jonathan Pitroipa breaking down the right and swinging in a superb cross for the unmarked Moumouni Dagano. Instead of beating Vincent Enyeama, however, the captain somehow contrived to let the ball glance off his shoulder and bounce to relative safety.
Brown nearly made it 2-0 after being played in by Mikel only to be denied by Soulama before substitute Ikechukwu Uche missed a gilt-edged chance of his own in lashing well wide when he should have scored. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso were taking advantage of their opponents' commitment to the attack, exploiting in particular the holes behind the fullbacks to worry Enyeama and the Nigeria back line.
Then disaster struck. Efe Ambrose was already on a yellow card, and the Celtic fullback ended up isolated against Pitroipa on the right. His opponent having flicked the ball over him and starting a sprint into the area, Ambrose moved to haul him down, giving away a free kick and reducing his side to ten men in the process.
Kenneth Omeruo came on at right back to replace the captain, and the rest of the match was essentially a holding action for the Super Eagles. It looked as though Burkina Faso wouldn't quite have the quality to take advantage of the red card, but in the last minute of injury time the match was turned on its head.
Traore, on as a substitute, would be the man who broke Nigerian hearts with a side-footed finish beyond Enyeama, but the man most responsible for the goal was the superb Pitroipa, who demolished the defence with an impressive run and cut back -- through Godfrey Obobona legs -- for Traore to slam home and send Burkina Faso's supporters into raptures.