Argentina, a team that looked like it had no chance of moving on from the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is back from the dead after securing a late 2-1 win over Nigeria, combined with a Croatia win over Iceland. Thanks to the two results, the South American giants finish second in Group D in what Lionel Messi and Argentina fans will remember as a small miracle.

Match Report

Marcos Rojo was Argentina’s unlikely hero as his stunning late winner secured a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria that keeps Lionel Messi’s side in the World Cup.

The Super Eagles were heading through to the last 16 at Argentina’s expense with four minutes to go of the final Group D game, but Rojo’s sensational low volley saved Jorge Sampaoli’s men and set up a showdown with France in the next round.

Messi gave Argentina the lead in St Petersburg on Tuesday, the Barcelona superstar scoring a stunner to bring up the 100th goal of Russia 2018.

But when Javier Mascherano dragged down Leon Balogun in the box shortly after the restart, Victor Moses stepped up to roll Nigeria level and within touching distance of progressing.

Sampaoli sent on attackers Cristian Pavon, Maximiliano Meza and Sergio Aguero, but it was defender Rojo who came up with a quite brilliant winner.

The right-wing cross from another defender, Gabriel Mercado, was perfectly placed for Rojo to arrive late and slam home an improbable, unstoppable finish that extends Argentina’s stay at the World Cup.

Full time analysis:

Football is a team game led by individuals. Argentina had the G.O.A.T Messi but were falling short of the overall team play in the first two matches. Today, Argentina had both Messi and a good team performance. To sum it up symbolically, Mascherano had the bloody face but still, he carried on for more 30 minutes of the game. That was the determination of Argentina today amid the limitations of age and quality in certain departments.

The 2-1 win against Nigeria sees Argentina qualifying from the World Cup group stages for the fourth consecutive tournament (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018). They will face France in knockout round who have topped Group C.

However, the match almost faded for Argentina after Nigeria scored the penalty in the 51st minute by Moses and were attacking in numbers in the 2nd half with renewed motivation.
Higuain had been relatively quiet in the second half and did his typical routine miss even though he had played a good 1st half with all his pressing.

However, Argentina never gave up under the shadow of the greatest of all time, Diego Maradona who was present in St Petersburg stadium and the team fought under his magnificent aura.

As things were looking gloom, Marcus Rojo of ManUtd came out of nowhere and scored a brilliant right footed shot between the bodies of two defenders. The rest was history.

How it rolled

Argentina vs Nigeria match started with a strange fact. Argentina started with their oldest ever line-up in the World Cup with an average age of 30. The initial minutes of the game saw Argentina dominating possession. The Nigerians defended all of Argentina’s advances.

You-know-who received a good pass from Banega and controlled it brilliantly with his left foot and scored with his right. Leo Messi finally announced himself in the World Cup. After the goal, he started creating problems for Nigeria in the first half. He delivered a brilliant pass to Higuain who failed to lob the shot over the Nigerian keeper.

Messi heroics, Rojo’s late winner take Argentina to knockouts; FT 2-1
The photographic moment of the day came when Leo Messi took the freekick after Angel Di Maria was brought down by the Nigerian defence. Messi scored a brilliant curler which beat the Nigerian goalkeeper and hit the woodwork.

Argentina pressed vehemently in the first half thanks to Higuain and Di Maria. Nigeria, were defensively goodd felt difficult to cope up with the sudden burst of attack.

2nd Half

Updates:

86 min: Marcus Rojo scores

80 min:Higuain with the typicalmiss

Sergio Aguero has been brought in to look for the winner

61min:Argentina are displaying a patch of slopping passing especially by the veteran Mascherano.

53 min:Nigeria has found renewed zeal after the goal.

51 min:Moses scores the penalty to equalise things for both the teams

46 min:Argentina looks comfortable in the early minutes of the 2nd half

Trivia: Moses’ penalty was the 16th so far at the 2018 World Cup. Only the 1998 tournament has seen more

Half-time analysis: Argentina vs Nigeria match started with a strange fact. Team Argentina started with their oldest ever line-up in the World Cup with an average age at 30. The initial minutes of the game saw Argentina dominating possession. The Nigerians defended all of Argentina’s advances.

Fifa World Cup 2018 Argentina vs Nigeria live: Moses nulls Messi goal, 1-1 However, you-know-who received a good pass from Banega and controlled it brilliantly with his left foot and scored with his right. Leo Messi finally announced himself in the World Cup. After the goal, he started creating problems for Nigeria. He delivered a brilliant pass to Higuain who failed to lob the shot over the Nigerian keeper.
The photographic moment of the day came when Leo Messi took the freekick after Angel Di Maria was brought down by the Nigerian defence. Messi scored a brilliant curler which beat the Nigerian goalkeeper and hit the woodwork.

The difference between this match and other matches for Argentina has been the team’s attitude. Argentina has pressed vehemently thanks to Higuain and Di Maria. Nigeria, although were defensively good,d felt difficult to cope up with the sudden burst of attack.

Although, Argentina has taken the lead but the game is still up for grabs for both the team. The second half is set for an epic clash.

Updates:

34 min: Messi takes the freekick and the ball hits the post.

30 min: Nigeria have been wasteful in the early minutes of the game

23min: Nigeria have done well so far but they have been undone by one moment of magic.

14 min: Lionel Messi scores! The 100th goal of the Fifa World Cup 2018

10 min: Argentina have dominated the early possesion of the match

Trivia:

Lionel Messi has scored the 100th goal at the 2018 World Cup.

Lionel Messi has scored his first World Cup goal in 662 minutes of football, his last previous World Cup goal came against Nigeria as well, in 2014.

Franco Armani will become the 17th different goalkeeper to start for Argentina

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