Lionel Messi scored twice to inspire Argentina to a thrilling 3-2 win over Nigeria on Wednesday which clinched top spot in World Cup Group F and sent home an army of Sky Blue supporters with smiles on their faces.
The few Nigerian fans in the crowd also left happy because their team advanced to the knockout phase thanks to Bosnia’s 3-1 win over Iran. Argentina finished on nine points, Nigeria on four, Bosnia three and Iran one.
“Nigeria is a versatile team, but they were not as aggressive when they occupy the spaces,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella told reporters.
“We started improving from the point of view of structure. We see an improvement as a whole. I don’t like speaking about individuals. The strikers played a better game this time. The weakness we discuss at home in private.
“You can win not playing well and still have things to correct, I’m pleased about the nine points but I must always improve.”
The match at Beira Rio stadium was as close as Argentina will come to a home game at this World Cup as an estimated 150,000 fans flooded across the border into this southern port city looking to get in on the party.
Although Argentina were guaranteed a place in the last 16, the twice champions still had plenty to play for on a drizzly day with top spot up for grabs and the soccer world waiting for the Sky Blues to flash their championship credentials after uninspiring wins over debutantes Bosnia and unfancied Iran.
Nigeria entered the contest as the only team who had yet to concede a goal but had not faced a side with the attacking quality of Argentina, who immediately put the Super Eagles under pressure.
Boasting one of the most intimidating attacking formations in the business with Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina had managed just three goals in two matches.
But the “Fab Four” were on song against Nigeria, with a dominating attacking display led by Messi, who struck twice in the opening half and looked dangerous throughout.
Taken from Telesurtv