Lionel Messi, Marcos Rojo guide Argentina enter Group of 16

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MOSCOW (RUSSIA): Lionel Messi’s fans across bounced back in jubilation after a late goal from Marcos Rojo gave Argentina a 2-1 triumph over Nigeria in their final Group D match taking the two-time champions into the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup.

 

Messi's first goal of the tournament got Argenina off to a perfect start in Saint Petersburg, but Victor Moses's 51st-minute penalty had Jorge Sampaoli's men headed for a humiliating group stage exit until Rojo's late intervention.

Nigeria were heading through to the last 16 at Argentina's expense with four minutes left in the game, but Rojo's sensational low volley saved Jorge Sampaoli's men and got them through to the knockout stages.

On the brink of elimination after playing a 1-1 draw against Iceland and a humiliating 0-3 defeat to Croatia in their second match, Argentina started their final group stage encounter Nigeria with one point in their bag.

Following a nervy start, Argentina took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, thanks to Messi's stunning shot, which was also the 100th goal of the tournament on whole.

However, Victor Moses' penalty soon gave an equaliser to Nigeria in the 51st minute.

Nigeria were awarded a penalty after veteran Argentine midfielder Mascherano was penalised for holding Balogun inside the box while defending a corner.

As the game was moving towards 1-1 draw, both sides tried and tested every possible move to take a lead in the second half.

While both sides failed on numerous close attempts, Rojo became the unlikely hero for Argentina.

Mercado raided down the right and bent a brilliant cross into the penalty area, allowing Rojo to time his run perfectly to tuck home a low right-footed volley.

That possibly was a memorable moment not just on the field, but across the globe.

Post this win, Argentina will now face France next in the round of 16. ANII

Image Credit: Hindustan Times

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