The Super Eagles of Nigeria came close to qualifying for the round 16 of the 2018 World Cup, but a late goal from Marcos Rojo denied them the chance as Argentina went through after a 2-1 victory.
Nigeria came into the game needing just a draw, but Argentina knowing their World Cup hopes depended on this game, threw everything at the Super Eagles.
Lionel Messi who was yet to score at this tournament prior to facing Nigeria, got off the mark putting the Albicelestes ahead after Ever Banega’s long pass picked him in space, and the Barcelona player chested down, brought the ball to his right foot and hit the ball past Francis Uzoho.
Argentina controlled the game from then on and Messi almost doubled his side’s lead with his freekick coming off the post, as Nigeria looked for a way back to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Nigeria had a penalty shout waved off after Marcos Rojo’s high boot caught Kelechi Iheanacho on the forehead, but Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir waved it off.
However at the start of the second half, the Super Eagles started much better and deservedly earned a penalty after Javier Mascherano fouled Leon Balogun in the box, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Victor Moses sent the keeper the wrong way and levelled for Nigeria. With the score at 1-1, it suited the Super Eagles who were at the verge of progressing at the expense of Argentina.
Nigeria felt hard done by, after Rojo handled the ball with it came off his head and the referee not awarding a penalty. There were other chances to score for Nigeria through Odion Ighalo who couldn’t find the right angle to net, and also Wilfred Ndidi who saw his shot sail wide off the post.
Then the heartbreaking moment came for Nigeria as a cross found Rojo who glided a shot with his right foot beyond Uzoho to put Argentina 2-1 up with just four minutes remaining.
Nigeria couldn’t make a comeback and exits the competition finishing 3rd in Group D. The defeat means that Nigeria have now lost all the five matches they have played against Argentina at a FIFA World Cup tournament.