Result: Argentina 2-4 Nigeria
Venue: Krasnodar Stadium
Date: 14 November 2017
Nigeria came back from 2-0 down to claim a sensational 4-2 friendly win over Argentina at the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia on Tuesday evening.
The pre-match headlines were dominated by Lionel Messi’s absence after the Barcelona frontman was granted a rest by manager Jorge Sampaoli and returned to his club.
La Albiceleste had the better of the opening stages and finally broke through in the 27th minute after having won a free-kick for a Daniel Akpeyi handball outside the area. Éver Banega made the Chippa United keeper pay, curling the ball into the bottom right corner.
From there, Argentina pushed forward in search of a second. They went close in the 31st minute, when Enzo Pérez forced a corner off Akpeyi and then Nicolás Otamendi headed just wide of the target.
Five minutes afterwards, the pressure payed off as Pavón played the ball across goal for Sergio Agüero, setting up the simplest of finishes for the Manchester City striker.
Nigeria pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time as Kelechi Iheanacho fired a free-kick into the top left corner. The Super Eagles would have gone into the break level but for an Agustín Marchesín save to deny Wilfred Ndidi straight afterwards.
However, they picked up where they left off at the start of the second half as Alex Iwobi levelled the scores in the 52nd minute, firing into the bottom left corner after having been set up by Iheanacho.
Two minutes later, Brian Idowu put Nigeria in front and Iheanacho bagged another assist. The Amkar Perm man fired his shot into the top right corner after having been teed up by the Leicester City star.
Iheanacho could have scored his second goal in the 59th minute after Nigeria hit Argentina on the counter, but Marchesín saved his effort.
The ex-Manchester City striker made way for Ahmed Musa in the 70th minute, but the Super Eagles continued to soar.
Three minutes after coming on, Musa passed the ball to Iwobi and the Arsenal youngster shook off Javier Mascherano before putting his shot in the bottom right corner to give the African giants some breathing space.
Nigeria’s substitute goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, was put to the test in the 83rd minute, but managed to tip Darío Benedetto’s header over the bar.
That header aside, Argentina created little in the second half and were utterly blown away. They may point to Messi’s absence, but Sampaoli will no doubt expect better from his side as they continue their preparations for next year’s World Cup.