Messi shines again and Argentina classifies as leader

Blue-and-white team beats Nigeria 3-2 and ends match as first place in group F; despite the result, Africans also go forward in the Cup

iG Minas Gerais | Thiago Prata |

Messi comemora gol da Argentina contra a Nigéria, em Porto Alegre
Michael Sohn/Associated Press
Messi comemora gol da Argentina contra a Nigéria, em Porto Alegre

Three games, three victories, but no performance that could be considered spectacular in a group without a match. With this history Argentina goes into last-16 in the World Cup. The team had its merits, that's a sure thing. However, struggled in various moments and also counted on luck, that was fundamental for classification. But up to where may the "hermanos’"* luck go? Until when will ace Messi carry the whole team on his shoulders?

This Wednesday (25), at Beira-Rio stadium, they had an idea of how is life with and without Messi. With the N10 on the field, the Argentinian squad scored three goals - two of them authored by the genius, who also participated in the other point, scored by Rojo. Musa scored both Nigerian goals. After the mid-forward left the field, at minute 63, in order to spare himself for next match, the squad turned into a common and uninspired team.

The "Messidependence" showed itself again in numbers. Four, out of the six Argentinian goals, are his. Thanks to that, the ace equalled himself to Neymar and is still a strong contestant for highest scorer of the tournament. Collectively speaking, though, Argentina is still in debt.

Nigeria, on the other hand, wasn't competent enough to defeat the hermanos, despite the war. Even with the defeat, the team managed to get the other place of the group into the last-16.

The game. The beginning of the match was hallucinating, with two goals in two minutes. At minute 3, Di Maria received a fine cross from Mascherano and kicked on the goalpost. On rebound, Messi shook the nets. The explosion of joy of the Argentinians in Beira-Rio lasted one minute, as in the following strike Musa hit a beautiful crossed kick to tie the score.

Differently from the two first rounds, this time the hermanos had more space to attack, due to a more offensive Nigerian attitude. The thing was two old problems came across: the crass finalization mistakes - it's impressive how Higuaín can destroy good strikes - and lack of care at the last pass.

It was the ace who had to change this scenery. On a free kick from the side, Messi hit Enyeama's left angle, at first half's end.

And, if Argentina has Messi, Nigeria has Musa. As soon as the second half begun, the African forward tied the score again. But the hermanos shook the nets one more time. At last, the author of the goal wasn't Messi again. This time, the merit was to Rojo, after a free kick from the corner.


Reason: 3rd round of World Cup group F Stadium: Beira-Rio, in Porto Alegre (RS) Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA) Yellow Cards: Oshaniwa, Omeruo (Nigeria) Goals: Musa (2) (Nigeria); Messi (2) and Rojo (Argentina)

NIGERIA Enyeama; Ambrose, Oshaniwa, Yobo and Omeruo; Onazi, ObiMikel, Babatunde (Uchebo) and Odemwingie (UcheNwofor); Musa and Emenike Coach: Stephen Keshi

ARGENTINA Romero; Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay and Rojo; Mascherano; Gago and Di Maria; Messi (Alvarez), Agüero (Lavezzi) and Higuaín Coach: Alejandro Sabella

* "Hermanos" is how Brazilians kindly call the Argentinians

Translated by Raquel Sodré

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