THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Marcus Rojo’s stunning finish four minutes to full-time kept Argentina’s World Cup hopes alive and kicked Nigeria out of the tournament in another competitive defeat, setting up Argentina for a last-16 tie with high flying France.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi’s first goal of the 2018 World Cup came in the early minutes of the encounter to give the South American side the perfect start they were aiming for, but Nigeria’s forward Victor Moses was able to cancel out the goal in the early minutes of the second half.
Rojo, the Manchester United defender, who could have conceded a second penalty moments earlier after a controversial video assistant referee (VAR) review, fired home a left footed shot from Gabriel Mercado’s cross to book a round of 16 encounter with France. VAR technology is expected to reduce controversies in football games by reducing human error in referee decisions but, according to a recent report, it is now only adding to the controversies.
However, it was a disappointing defeat for Nigeria whose hope was kept alive until the 86th minute.
Argentina coach made five changes to the squad defeated by Croatia, returning the likes of match-winner Marcos Rojo, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain to the starting line up.
Ever Banega was also re-enlisted to the starting lineup to bring some creativity to the Argentinian midfield which was overrun by Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, and he was able to prove his worth 15 minutes into the game by providing a brilliant assist which ended up setting up Lionel Messi’s goal.
Both sides went ahead to miss various chances which could have settled the match earlier, like Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo missing out a great goal at a close range. Nigeria could have won their second penalty of the game with the match winner Marcos Rojo heading the ball onto his arm but a controversial referee’s decision ruled this out.
In the search for the match winner, the Argentinian coach brought on Aguero to join Lionel Messi and Higuain in the attack but it was the versatile Manchester United defender, Marcus Rojo, that produced the goal they were waiting for.
Series of funny celebration was seen in the stadium with the iconic world cup winner Diego Maradona raising the middle finger of his two hands in jubilation of Rojo’s goal.
Nigeria yet endured another disappointing campaign in the World Cup. Africa’s hopes will now be on Senegal which might be the only African side to secure a round of 16 qualification in the 2018 World Cup.
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