Marcos Rojo scored a ultimate lifeless volley to send Argentina through to the final sixteen of the 2018 World Cup with a dramatic victory over Nigeria in St Petersburg.
A lacklustre Argentina were on the verge of an embarrassing exit, before Manchester United defender Rojo surged into the region to construct aside Gabriel Mercado’s ugly into the bottom nook.
Lionel Messi, who had scored a lustrous opener, jumped on Rojo’s serve as he sprinted away in delirious occasion, joined by the total Argentina bench in the nook.
It was once a consequence they scarcely deserved after a wretched 2nd half of unveiling, epitomised by the Javier Mascherano error that allowed Victor Moses to equalise with a penalty.
But once their out of date defence had held on to the closing whistle, the Argentina players embraced every other in the centre of the pitch, waving to their vociferous fans, a disjointed aspect united for now.
They’ll face Community C winners France in the final sixteen in Kazan on Saturday, whereas Community D winners Croatia, who secured top build aside by beating Iceland 2-1, play Denmark.
Messi’s magical touch
Given Messi will be 35 throughout the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022, victory here has no longer lower than staved off a depressing cease to what might maybe maybe maybe moreover properly be his final chance to rob the tournament.
The Barcelona striker, whose imprint of a smile throughout the pre-match anthems was once a stark distinction to his pained expression ahead of the three-zero defeat by Croatia, produced a in point of fact just correct first half of performance.
His opening purpose displayed all his skill and composure. With Ever Banega taking a look for to maneuver over the tip from deep, Messi cut serve sharply pleasurable and surged in in the serve of the defence, with the Sevilla midfielder deciding on him out with an incredible move.
Messi’s first touch to cushion the ball on his left thigh was once sublime, the 2nd off his left boot to blueprint it far flung from Kenneth Omeruo shimmering, the maintain into the far nook with his pleasurable emphatic.
In numerous areas he was once environment edifying, threatening to make openings with every fleet touch, and might maybe maybe well indulge in had a 2nd but for Nigeria keeper Francis Uzoho’s tremendous place to tip a free-kick onto the put up.
With Argentina’s players reportedly at odds with boss Jorge Sampaoli, it was once maybe telling that Messi delivered a 2nd team talk to his aspect in the tunnel actual before coming out for the 2nd half of.
His phrases failed to encourage them, with Messi an increasing vogue of remoted, but he had no longer lower than given his team-mates the foundation to salvage their World Cup.
Rising outdated Argentina peril through
It’s still laborious to deem Argentina progressing into the latter stages of this tournament without principal improvement, although Messi goes on to keep in performances for the ages.
This was once the oldest starting aspect in the nation’s hugely a success World Cup history – with an common age of 30 years and 189 days – but it completely is a miles from settled one.
Sampaoli made five modifications from the Croatia defeat, including a world debut for 31-one year-used keeper Franco Armani after Willy Caballero’s blunder.
About a of these modifications, indulge in starting Banega, were overdue, but the resolution to plunge Sergio Aguero and then wait except two other substitutions had been made and Eighty minutes had passed before introducing him was once odd.
If Sampaoli has misplaced control of the dressing room, Mascherano is supposedly his aspect’s right leader. But the inclined Barcelona and Liverpool defensive midfielder, who now performs for Chinese language club Hebei China Fortune, looks to be like shorn of his inclined talents, failing to produce protection to a shak