2018 FIFA World Cup: Marcos Rojo’s Late Volley Snatches Dramatic Victory And Spot In Last 16 For Argentina
Argentina made it to the last 16 in dramatic style after Marcos Rojo’s fine late volley gave them a 2-1 win over Nigeria in St Petersburg.
It looked like Nigeria would enter the knockouts when the scoreboard was reading 1-1 with just four minutes remaining. However, the Manchester United defender popped up to convert Mercado’s cross and send the South Africans to the last sixteen in the most dramatic of fashions.
After collecting just one point off the first two games, Argentina needed a win to keep their qualifying hopes alive. And they were off to a good start as Lionel Messi fired them ahead in the 14th minute. The Barcelona superstar found the back of the net from 10 yards after Ever Banega superbly found him from deep.
Argentina could have doubled their lead but Messi’s brilliantly taken free-kick hit the woodwork. Nigeria then took command of the proceedings when Victor Moses slotted home a penalty (51) from Javier Mascherano’s tug on Leon Balogun from a corner. However, in the end, the two-time World Cup winners won it.
They will now play France in Kazan on Saturday, while Croatia will play Denmark on Sunday.
Severely criticised for his tactics in the first two games, Jorge Sampaoli went for five changes in the Argentina lineup. He also went with the 4-4-2, his third different formation of the World Cup. And fortunately it worked early on.
Banega, recalled into the starting eleven, played a fine ball from deep over the Nigeria defence for Messi. And the Argentina skipper collected the ball with a brilliant touch before finishing past Francis Uzoho.
Messi then played a fine through ball to Gonzalo Higuain but the latter missed the chance to double the lead before the half-hour mark. The five-time Ballon D’Or winner soon hit the post with a 20-yard free-kick.
The second half started on a poor note for Argentina. Mascherano first gave away a needless corner before grappling with Balogun from the resulting cross, with Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir going to VAR before awarding the spot-kick. Victor Moses made no mistake from the spot, meaning Nigeria were through as it stood.
Odion Ighalo then missed a golden chance to put the African country ahead as the ball dropped kindly to him 10 yards out. And Nigeria soon rued the missed chance as Rojo scored the winner late in the game to break their hearts.
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