Lionel Messi’s Argentina will be in the World Cup’s knockout rounds, but it was Marcos Rojo who was the unlikeliest of heroes.
2018 World Cup
7′ CHANCE! Tagliafico’s shot wide out
Argentina defender Tagliafico has a go on Nigeria goal and it provides a glimpse of hopes for Argentina.
9′ CHANCE! Musa’s shot wide out
Nigeria are starting to find their feet and are getting shots in on goal but Musa, slipping as he strikes, fires an effort over Armani’s bar.
14′ GOAL! Nigeria 0-1 Argentina (Messi)
Messi gives Argentina a 1-0 lead! Banega lofts a fantastic ball over the Nigeria defence to find Messi who surged into space, striking into the far corner of the net.
Messi’s run was sublime but the ball from Banega was pinpoint, putting the ball on the plate for Argentina’s number 10.
27′ CLOSE! Nearly a second for Argentina
Messi feeds an excellent through ball to the feet of Higuain but Uzoho is quick off his line to save the attempt from the Juventus forward.
The stopper is now receiving some treatment after being caught after Higuain’s shot.
32′ Yellow! Balogun escapes red card for foul on Di Maria
A big moment in the match as Di Maria surges through on goal and is clipped from behind by Balogun, who earns a yellow card. Argentina are appealing for a red card but there was another covering defender.
33′ CLOSE! Messi’s free kick off the post
OFF THE POST! Messi steps up to take the resulting free-kick and tries to catch Uzoho out by going for the right-hand side of the goal but his effort clatters back off the post.
49′ PENALTY TO NIGERIA! Mascherano fouls Balogun in the box!
Etebo whips a corner into the middle and Mascherano is adjudged to have fouled a Nigeria man inside the area. Mascherano is booked for the foul.
VAR is being consulted and there is definitely contact between Mascherano and Balogun. It may be harsh but defenders have been warned throughout the tournament.
51′ Penalty Goal! Nigeria 1-1 Argentina (Moses)
Moses tucks home from the spot and it’s 1-1! The Chelsea man was cool after an extended wait to take the penalty, waiting for Armani to make his move and slotting to the right-hand side.
75′ Rojo touches the ball and Nigeria want a penalty but VAR says no
Musa finds space down the left and drills a low ball back into the middle, where the ball is deflected up in the air and then smashed at goal by Ighalo – but it’s wide of the mark.
VAR is being consulted as Nigeria appeal for a handball and it certainly struck the arm of Rojo. No penalty from the referee as it would have been very harsh.
80′ WHAT A CHANCE! Higuain’s shot over
Was that the moment for Argentina? Rojo drills a low ball back into the middle of the penalty area where Higuain is lurking but he lashes his shot off target.
83′ GREAT CHANCE! Ighalo’s shot saved
Nigeria have a chance to take the lead and secure their spot in the knockout stages but Armani makes a crucial save to deny Ighalo.
86′ GOAL! Nigeria 1-2 Argentina (Rojo)
Rojo could be the hero! Mercado curls a superb cross into the middle where the Manchester United man tucks home superbly with his right foot. The roof has just lifted off the stadium!
Marcos Rojo was Argentina’s unlikely hero as his stunning late winner secured a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria that keeps Lionel Messi’s side in the World Cup.
The Super Eagles were heading through to the last 16 at Argentina’s expense with four minutes to go of the final Group D game, but Rojo’s sensational low volley saved Jorge Sampaoli’s men and set up a showdown with France in the next round.
Messi gave Argentina the lead in St Petersburg on Tuesday, the Barcelona superstar scoring a stunner to bring up the 100th goal of Russia 2018.
But when Javier Mascherano dragged down Leon Balogun in the box shortly after the restart, Victor Moses stepped up to roll Nigeria level and within touching distance of progressing.
Sampaoli sent on attackers Cristian Pavon, Maximiliano Meza and Sergio Aguero, but it was defender Rojo who came up with a quite brilliant winner.
The right-wing cross from another defender, Gabriel Mercado, was perfectly placed for Rojo to arrive late and slam home an improbable, unstoppable finish that extends Argentina’s stay at the World Cup.
Nigeria XI: Uzoho (GK); Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Omeruo; Ndidi, Etebo, Mikel (C); Musa, Iheanacho, Moses.
Subs: Ezenwa (GK), Akpeyi (GK), Iwobi, Ebuehi, Shehu, Ighalo, Nwankwo, Onazi, Obi, Ogu, Awaziem, Echiejile.
Argentina XI: Armani (GK); Mercado, Tagliafico, Rojo, Otamendi; Mascherano, Banega, Perez; Di Maria, Higuain, Messi (C).
Subs: Guzman (GK), Caballero (GK), Ansaldi, Biglia, Fazio, Acuna, Meza, Salvio, Aguero, Lo Celso, Dybala, Pavon.