Messi inspired Argentina finally made it winning the virtual knock out 2-1. Messi scored a magical goal early in the match. Argentina conceded an unnecessary penalty . Victor Moses cooly converted (1-1) . When things was looking bleak and time running out Rojo rescued popular Argentina from the jaws of death 2-1. Croatia winning 2-1 against debutant Iceland made it three wins in three. Croatia would play Demark and Argentina will find France in pre-quarterfinal matches in the group of sixteen.
Argentina with 5 changes in the starting eleven looked very different and lot more enterprising. Messi was looking proactive with Higuain beside him. The attractive brand of aggressive football that features their game was back in plenty. They were looking very much the team meaning business from the very start. Players were taking initiative peaking their individual games per demand of the situation.
Nigeria on the other hand was looking too conservative and cautious. The fluidity and effervescence of Argentines possibly took the gloss out of Nigeria. They hardly coordinated in the midfield and relied mostly on long ball directed towards the wings.
Nigeria’s exit means Senegal are the last African team with a chance of reaching the second round. What we’ve seen in the past few days is how much history matters in the decisive moments. Just as Germany found the answer against Sweden, Nigeria were unable to resist their bogey team here. Five times they’ve met Argentina in the group stage of the World Cup; five times they’ve lost by the odd
Messi Goal early on comforted nerves of the Argentines. He was a fed with an excellent pass on the top of the box and he unleashed a magical strike that sounded so sweet all over Argentine soccer world. Argentina kept pressing on. But despite of crafty moves Argentina could not add to the tally till lemon break. Rather they were stunned by penalty goal equalizer from Victor Moses in the second half. Like king cobras Argentine players were hissing around Nigeria defense in search of the winner. But they just could not unleash the final bite. The shocking thought of exiting from group stage was looming. The expression on the face of great Maradona was self explaining. They also survived few close call. An appeal of a possible penalty against them was justifiably not allowed by Turkish referee. When all seemed to have lost Rojo came to the rescue.
La Albiceleste spent nearly the entire second half throwing bodies at Nigeria’s goal. In the 86th minute, it paid off, and earned Argentina gate pass to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Gabriel Mercado took a ball wide and sent a cross into a mostly empty 18-yard box. But Marcos Rojo, a defender, was there and punched a volley with his right foot into the corner of the net ( 2-1) . Messi and Argentina were kept alive in the World Cup. Billions of Argentine fans around the world were relived. Messi showed some glimpses of the wonder world. But his best is yet to be seen. The five changes in the starting eleven worked well.
What a contrast it was? This team was looking down the barrel. They were not playing like shadow of their past. Possibly some sparks ignited fire in them. Definitely it was not cooking well in Argentine kitchen. Now back in business Argentina will be a difficult team to beat though France will be all together a different team to deal with.
BDST: 0242 HRS, JUN 27, 2018