Marcos Alberto Rojo late strikes save Argentina as La Albiceleste makes to the last 16 after finally...
In the enthralling encounter final match of the Group-D Argentina managed a narrow 2-1 win over tough Nigeria at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg.
Argentina needing the win to go further in the tournament strikes first in the 14th minute through Messi, who has been under criticism for his underperformance in the tournament. He collects Banega´s through pass on his thighs and rolls forward before sending the shot to the far corner of the net and that was the 100th goal of the tournament.
Argentina had another chance to double the lead in the 27th minute but Nigerian keeper did a wonderful act to deny Higuain who was fitted and excellent ball by Messi. Juventus forward did get a touch but not quick enough to beat rushing Uzoho.
Messi´s free kick strike in the 34th minute came off the post much to the frustration to Argentina and Messi fan around the globe.
Nigeria needing a point to book their place in the last 16 have struggled throughout the first half and were not able to keep the ball possession.
The Super Eagles came as a different team in the second session and were more determined and kept pressing Argentina at the back line. In the 50th minute, Alejandro Mascherano did a silly mistake by pulling down Balogun inside the box and referee did not hesitate to point to the white spot. Victor Moses steps in and made no mistake to bring in the equalizer in the 51st minute.
After the equalizer, Nigeria were boosted up and starting invading Argentine territory quite often. Ndidi made a huge miss in the 71st minute wow slams a powerful shot unmarked over the bar that could have broken Argentina down. Nigeria wasted several chances towards the fifth quarter of the match.
Argentina were fortunate not to concede another penalty just before 80 minutes when a headed clearance by Rojo hit off his arm, forcing the referee into a video review after which he did not give the spot kick.
Marcos Alberto Rojo´s 86th-minute strikes on Mercado´s perfect cross sealed the deal for Messi´s men as La Albiceleste held on to the lead till the final whistle.
The win hand Argentina the second spot in the Grop D and qualifies for the Round of 16. Croatia progressed as the group topper.
Full-time: Nigeria 1-2 Argentina
90+4: Yellow card Lionel Messi
90+2: Substitution for Nigeria, Ahmed Musa OFF Simy IN
90: Four minutes added
90: Yellow card John Obi Mikel
89: Substitution for Nigeria, Kenneth Omeruo OFF Alex Iwobi IN
86: Goal!! Marcos Rojo scored for Argentina
80: Substitution for Argentina, Nicolas Tagliafico OFF Sergio Aguero IN
72: Substitution for Argentina, Angel Di Maria OFF Maximiliano Meza IN
64: Yellow card Ever Banega
61: Substitution for Argentina, Enzo Perez OFF Cristian Pavon IN
51: Penalty Goal by Victor Moses
49: Yellow card Javier Mascherano
46: Substitution for Nigeria, Kelechi Iheanacho OFF Odion Ighalo IN
46: Second half kicks off
Half-time: Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
45: Two minutes added
32: Yellow card Leon Balogun
14: Goal!! Lionel Messi scored for Argentina
1: First half kick off
Argentina subs: Nahuel Guzman, Willy Caballero, Giovani Lo Celso, Maximiliano Meza, Paulo Dybala, Lucas Biglia, Eduardo Salvio, Cristian Pavon, Federico Fazio, Marcos Acuna, Sergio Aguero, Cristian Ansaldi.
Argentina line-up: Franco Armani; Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico; Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega; Enzo Perez, Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Gonzalo Higuain.
Nigeria subs: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Alex Iwobi, Simy, Odion Ighalo, Tyronne Ebuehi, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem, John Ogu, Elderson Echiejile, Joel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi.
Nigeria line-up: Francis Uzoho; Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong; Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Oghenekaro Etebo, Brian Idowu; Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa.