The pace and power of the Group C winners proved too much for the New Zealand side as the African nation made a lightning fast start, taking the lead inside the first 33 seconds as Asisat Oshoala headed home at the back post.
Nigeria were 2-0 up 12 minutes later when, with centre back Meikayla Moore off the field receiving treatment for an injury, Oshoala broke in behind the Junior Football Ferns back line to slip the ball home beyond goalkeeper Lily Alfeld.
From that point Nigeria effectively closed out the match, the speed and strength of the African side leaving the Junior Football Ferns little opportunity to establish a regular attacking threat despite an improved second half performance.
The second period remained scoreless until Nigerian substitute Uchechi Sunday slammed the ball into the roof of the net after a corner with six minutes to go, just seconds after coming off the bench.
The New Zealand side were rewarded for their hard work as Emma Rolston headed in a cross from substitute Jasmine Pereira in the 89th minute but there was still time for Sunday to grab her second of the day 60 seconds later to complete the scoring.
Junior Football Ferns coach Aaron McFarland rued the slow start which saw the African side on the front foot within the first minute.
“I think as an overall view we were disappointed as a group with that first half,” McFarland said.
“We were organised and ready to play but individually there were some moments when we weren’t able to match their aggression or their speed.
“The second half we were a lot more effective but to come back from being 2-0 down against a good side like Nigeria was always going to be difficult.”
McFarland pointed to their opponent’s ability to take advantage of their strength in individual battles as a key factor in Monday’s outcome, one the Junior Football Ferns coach hopes doesn’t take the gloss of what the team were able to achieve in Canada.
“Anytime they got 1v1 situations they thrived because they’ve got that speed and that culture where they really embrace that 1v1 duel and want to take you on.
“We’re not used to that and need more exposure to that kind of opponent to get used to it. We expected it, but up live it was even better than you see on the screen.”
“They’ll dwell on it with a little bit of sadness and a bit of regret that in the first half they played within themselves and were a bit in awe of the opponent. By the time we found our feet we were chasing the game, so there’ll be some disappointment in that regard.
“But I think eventually they’ll look back and they should be proud of what they’ve achieved.”
On Thursday, the Junior Football Ferns became the first New Zealand women’s side to reach the second phase of a FIFA World Cup event after their 3-0 win over Costa Rica. The Football Ferns made the quarter-final stage of the 2012 London Olympics.
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 – Quarter-final
New Zealand 1-4 Nigeria (half: 0-2)
NZL: Emma Rolston 89’
NGA: Asisat Oshoala 1’, 13’, Uchechi Sunday 84’ 90’
New Zealand: 1. Lily Alfeld (GK), 2. CJ Bott (15. Megan Robertson 77’), 3. Megan Lee, 4. Evie Millynn, 5. Emily Jensen, 6. Meikayla Moore, 8. Daisy Cleverley, 10. Emma Rolston, 12. Stephanie Skilton (17. Jasmine Pereira 64’), 14. Katie Bowen (capt), 16. Ashleigh Ward (19. Tayla O’Brien 52’)
Substitutes not used: 7. Hannah Carlsen, 9. Martine Puketapu, 11. Briar Palmer, 13. Isabella Coombes, 18. Belinda van Noorden, 20. Corina Brown (GK), 21. Ronisa Lipi (GK)