Watch: Sensational control from Messi to open his account at Russia 2018
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 27, 2018
Argentina football had been in chaos following their defeat to Croatia in round 2: an alleged fight between Javier Mascherano and Cristian Pavon, open criticism of Jorge Sampaoli by Sergio Aguero, the leaked Whatsapp messages from Diego Simeone criticizing the performance and effort of Messi, and the humiliating minute silence on Argentine television marking the death of football.
But it only took Lionel Messi 13 minutes of the Nigeria game to finally put his stamp on this World Cup and he did it in some style.
Ever Benega picked up the ball around the half way line, took one touch to get the ball out from under his feet, looked up to see Messi running an in out line on Kenneth Omeruo, and delivered an inch perfect pass into his path.
Running at full speed, without breaking his stride, he delicately cushioned the ball from Benega with his left thigh, into the path of his left foot and in the next step perfectly controlled the ball away from the backtracking Omerou and over to his right foot. With his third touch he thumped the ball past the helpless Francis Uzoho in Nigeria’s goal.
The brilliance was in the simplicity. No other player on the planet could’ve made it look so easy.
In the other Group B match, Spain managed to salvage a draw against Morocco after going 2-1 down with only a few minutes left. Iago Aspas scored the equaliser which proved important because it meant Spain topped the group and avoided Uruguay in the next round. Portugal will play them instead and Spain will face Russia.
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