Saving Argentina from the embarrassment of early exit from FIFA World Cup 2018, it was Marcos Rojo’s stunning finishing four minutes that helped Argentina beat Nigeria with 2-1 on Tuesday and book for the 16th round of the tournament.
Perhaps, it was a dizzying and electric night for both the teams, trying to save themselves from a FIFA early exit by winning the decisive game. While Nigeria was on the high with a victorious triumph in the previous game against Iceland with a 2-0 and a fully controlled knockout, Argentina was in desperate need to win the game after scoring just one point from its first two matches. It was Lionel Messi’s first goal of the tournament at the 14th minute, that set Argentina off to a perfect start in Saint Petersburg against Nigeria, after which, it was a game of defence for Albiceleste.
The highly professional Argentinian team surely helped to hold on to the lifeline that Messi had thrown, but the Nigerian defence was giving Messi a hard run to make another goal. However, the Africans swung back with a penalty in the 51st minute by Victor Moses to equalise with Argentina and make the twice World Cup winners struggle through the ragged second half of the game. As for Messi, it was turning out to be a major setback, especially after 3-0 defeat to Croatia and almost being dragged to the exit door of the FIFA World Cup this year.
When Messi was unable to score a final goal, he had said to his team in the half time that “all of us have the duty to score so whenever we get the chance, we shoot, no matter our position”. It was in the last four minutes of the match, before ending up with a tie that Marcos Rojo kicked the goal of the night and became the unlikely hero who save Argentina from going home on Tuesday. Argentina’s win against Nigeria with a 2-1 booked the Super Eagles a ticket to 16th round against France in Kazan; but the star of the savagery game for Argentina was not Messi, but Marcos Rojo. With the last entry in the 16, Argentina is not only alive in the FIFA World Cup 2018, but it is also a revival of Messi’s dream.