Two late penalties from Chelsea’s Victor Moses enabled Nigeria to book their quarter-final place on Tuesday.
Nigeria made a confident start with Efe Ambrose having an early chance to repeat his Liberia heroics, but his header went wide.
Another chance came soon after that with Moses’ free kick deflecting into the hands of the Ethiopian goalkeeper Sisay Bancha. Ikechukwu Uche went through on goal in the fourth minute but Bancha saved well at the feet of the striker.
Ethiopia had a chance in the 15th minute but star striker Said Saluhdin headed wide.
In the 24th minute, a good passing move from Nigeria saw Ikechukwu Uche pass to Elderson Echiejile, who skied his shot. He also had another chance in the 34th minute off a corner kick from Moses, but the goalkeeper parried.
Said caught the Nigeria defence napping in the 29th minute but he shot into Vincent Enyeama’s grateful gloves.
The second half started with the Ethiopians on the front foot as Estifinos shot from 30 yards, but the effort was tame.
With 25 minutes gone in the second half, Sunday Mba got a yellow card for a lunge. Then Fegor Ogude collected his second yellow card of the first round to rule him out of the quarter-final.
Redemption finally came for the Eagles in the 78th minute when Moses was scythed down in the box for the penalty which he took and calmly rolled to the left side of Sisay for the Eagles to take the lead.
Three minutes later, Enyeama made a great save off a Said header to deny the equaliser.
Mikel Obi was given a yellow card for a foul on the edge of the box and on the breakaway Moses rounded Sisay, who was sent off for bringing him down.
Having used all their substitutes, Ethiopia gave Adnan the goalkeeper gloves to face Moses who kicked to the makeshift keeper’s right for his second goal of the game and of the tournament.
Five Nigerian players were a caution away from missing the quarter final but only Ogude will now miss the confrontation with the Didier Drogba led Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday in Rustenburg.