Messi Leads Argentina Into Last 16, Nigeria Crash Out
2018 World Cup Report: Nigeria v Argentina 26 June 2018
Argentina secured their spot in knockout stages at the 2018 World Cup after defeating Nigeria 2-1 thanks to a late winner from an unlikely source.
2018 World Cup
Result: Nigeria 1-2 Argentina
Date: 26 June 2018
Venue: Saint Petersburg Stadium
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Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo returned to the Argentina line-up while Gonzalo Higuain replaced Sergio Aguero in the attack.
There was a good tempo to the first half as both nations registered efforts at goal in the opening 10 minutes, although Nigeria's Ahmed Musa went the closest.
It was the South Americans, though, who broke the deadlock on 14 minutes as a superb long ball from Ever Banega found Messi, who controlled well before firing a right-footed strike into the far corner.
Argentina nearly found a second goal after 28 minutes when Messi turned provider to slip in Higuain, who was eventually thwarted by Francis Uzoho.
Five minutes later, Messi was denied by the woodwork as the Argentine's free-kick from 20-yards out crashed against the upright after a fingertip save from Uzoho.
The Super Eagles, meanwhile, did pose a threat with Victor Moses and Musa on the flanks, however, the attacking duo did not have any joy as the African nation went into the break trailing.
Five minutes into the second half, the Super Eagles were awarded a penalty when Javier Mascherano committed a foul on Balogun, and Moses stepped up and calmly rolled the ball into the back of the net to level matters for the Nigerians.
Jorge Sampaoli responded by introducing Cristian Pavón for Enzo Perez after the hour mark as they went in search of a second goal.
The Super Eagles looked confident on the ball going forward and they went close to taking the lead when Wilfried Ndidi's long-range effort sailed inches over the crossbar.
Higuain squandered a golden chance to put Argentina ahead with nine minutes remaining as he blazed over the crossbar from close range.
Argentina were not to be denied in the 86th minute as defender Marcos Rojo found the back of the net with a superb finish from 12-yards out.
Argentina managed to see off any late surge from the Super Eagles to secure three points and a spot in the round of 16.