Marcos Rojo Saves Argentina and Lionel Messi’s World Cup Dream

Marcos Rojo’s dramatic late goal sealed Argentina’s unlikely qualification for the last 16 of the World Cup.

Needing a win and a favourable result in the other Group D match, Argentina were staring down the barrel until the Manchester United defender popped up to volley an 86th minute winner.

Lionel Messi gave Argentina the perfect start after 15 minutes with a moment of trademark magic.

Arsenal transfer target Ever Banega deserved credit for spotting and locating Messi’s run with a sumptuous long pass, but Messi required three perfect touches with three different parts of his body to score.

The Barcelona superstar controlled the ball on this thigh before nudging the ball away from the defender using his instep without it touching the ground.

When he caught up with the ball he delivered a thumping shot with his ‘weaker’ right foot across goalkeeper Francis Uzoho and into the far corner.Fancis

Messi almost doubled Argentina’s lead from a free kick ten minutes before half time, reversing the ball across the face of Uzoho who managed to divert the ball on to the post at full stretch.

With Iceland level against Croatia a win would have been enough to see Argentina progress but a moment of madness from Javier Mascherano handed Nigeria the opportunity to level from the spot. The former Barcelona and Liverpool midfielder was penalised for holding Leon Balogun and Chelsea’s Victor Moses calmly rolled home the penalty.

Jorge Sampaoli waited until ten minutes from the end to summon Sergio Aguero from the bench but it was his strike partner Gonzalo Higuain who wasted Argentina’s best chance, the Juventus striker blazing well over from just 12 yards.

It looked as though Argentina were heading for a premature exit but against the odds, Rojo popped up to thunder home Gabriel Mercado’s deep cross to spark scenes of wild jubilation.

 

 

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