Messi on song again as Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in Porto Alegre

Date: June 25, 2014

Result: Nigeria 2-3 Argentina

Scorers:

Nigeria:

  • Ahmed Musa 4, 47

Argentina:

  • Lionel Messi 3, 45, Rojo 50

Venue: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre

Attendance: 43,285

Match overview: Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in Porto Alegre but both teams still went through to the knockout stage because of Iran’s defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The match got off to an explosive start, with Lionel Messi scoring his third goal in as many games after just three minutes. Messi slammed home the rebound after Angel Di Maria’s shot had hit a post but Nigeria equalised a minute later when Ahmed Musa turned inside Pablo Zabaleta and fired home.

Argentina began to assert their dominance, helped by some poor Nigerian defending. Sergio Aguero limped off after 37 minutes, giving Ezequiel Lavezzi a chance to impress. But it was again Messi who inspired Argentina, putting them back ahead in first-half injury time with a brilliant free-kick.

Nigeria equalised for a second time shortly after the break with another well-taken goal by Musa. However, poor Nigerian defending allowed Argentina to take the lead for a third time, Marcos Rojo scoring from a corner in the 50th minute. Argentina were in control and could afford to rest Messi, subbing him in the 62nd minute to a hero’s ovation from the thousands of Argentina fans who had crossed the border from Argentina to fill the stadium in Porto Alegre.

Key moment: Lionel Messi’s wonderful free-kick for Argentina’s second goal restored his side’s lead going into the break and reminded everyone of his brilliance.

Man of the match: On the day after his 27th birthday, Lionel Messi became only the second Argentina player, after Diego Maradona, to score four goals in a World Cup group phase.

Matter of fact: Despite Nigeria’s defeat, Stephen Keshi became the first African coach to lead a team into the knockout phase of the World Cup.

Talking point: Argentina’s football was far more fluid than in their opening two games, against Bosnia and Iran, justifying coach Alex Sabella’s belief in the 4-3-3 formation. However, Sergio Aguero, the biggest disappointment so far for Argentina, limped off late in the first half, to be replaced by Ezequiel Lavezzi. Sabella now has a selection dilemma ahead of Argentina’s second round game in Sao Paulo.

Stats:

Goal attempts

  • Nigeria 7
  • Argentina 19

On target

  • Nigeria 3
  • Argentina 14

Corners

  • Nigeria 4
  • Argentina 12

Line-ups:

Nigeria:

  • 01 Enyeama
  • 05 Ambrose
  • 02 Yobo
  • 22 Omeruo
  • 13 Oshaniwa
  • 17 Onazi
  • 10 Mikel
  • 18 Babatunde (Uchebo 66)
  • 08 Odemwingie (Nwofor 80)
  • 09 Emenike
  • 07 Musa

Argentina:

  • 01 Romero
  • 04 Zabaleta
  • 17 Federico Fernandez
  • 02 Garay
  • 16 Rojo
  • 05 Gago
  • 14 Mascherano
  • 07 Di Maria
  • 10 Messi (Alvarez 62)
  • 09 Higuain (Biglia 90)
  • 20 Aguero (Lavezzi 38)

 

Yellow cards:

Nigeria: Omeruo 49, Oshaniwa 51

 

Argentina: none

 

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)