Home > FIFA World Cup 2014 > FIFA World Cup News >

Lionel Messi’s brace helps Argentina top group with 3-2 win over Nigeria

Lionel-Messi
Lionel Messi is now joint top scorer with four goals © Getty Images

Porto Alegre (Brazil): Jun 26, 2014

Argentina put in their best attacking performance in the FIFA World Cup 2014 as they beat Nigeria 3-2 in Group F courtesy a Lionel Messi brace at the Estadio Beira-Rio. Messi, who has been regularly criticised for his performance in international matches, scored his fourth goal of the tournament, making him the joint top scorer along with Brazil star Neymar.

Messi opened the scoring in the third minute smashing the ball in from close range. Nigeria shocked their opponents a minute later for the equaliser from Ahmed Musa. Messi’s 45+1 minute freekick put Argentina ahead for the second time but they were once again pegged back by Musa two minutes into the second half. Defender Marcos Rojo scored the winner in the 50th minute to make it three wins out of three for Argentina.

Argentina had already qualified for the last-16 and with Iran losing 1-3 to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria too reached the knockout stage. The South American giants topped Group F with nine points while Nigeria were second with four points. Bosnia had three points while Iran finished without a win and just a single point. It was a scintillating performance from Messi and Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria and caused many problems for the Nigerian defence.

It was the first real performance from a team regarded as the favourites by many to lift the trophy after two flat showings in their opening two matches. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Argentina, though, and their defensive performance would be a cause for concern for coach Alejandro Sabella. It was a lazy performance from the Argentine back four and too many times did they let Nigeria attackers venture into the box.

Argentina will have to shore up their defensive skills if they are to have a chance of winning their third World Cup. Argentina and Nigeria had met six times before the Wednesday match, and Argentina won four of them, including all three meetings on the World Cup stage. The Argentine fans, who created a deafening sound in the Estadio Beira-Rio, didn’t have to wait long for the first goal.

In the third minute, Di Maria struck the post after a one-on-one encounter with Nigerian goalkeeper Enyeama. Messi was there to catch the rebound and the Barcelona star smashed the half volley into the top netting. Nigeria, however, hit back instantly and tied the score within a minute. Ahmed Musa got the ball from Babatunde, cut into the Argentina penalty area and curled in the ball into the net.

Only twice before the match there had been two goals in the first four minutes of a World Cup match — Austria-Czechoslovakia (3rd min and 4th min) in 1954 and Soviet Union-Hungary (2nd min and 4th min) in 1986. The Nigeria goal opened the match even further as both sides attacked with great vigour. While Argentina held the lion share of the possession and constantly made inroads into the opposition box, Nigeria played on counter.

The South Americans suffered a setback with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero being subbed in the 37th minute. The Argentines kept creating chances after chances but couldn’t find the goal. It took a Messi free kick in the 45+1 minute to breakthrough Nigeria and give Argentina the lead for the second time in the match. Musa was again at hand to score the equaliser with a 47th minute strike that silenced the strong Argentine contingent sitting in the stands.

However, they burst into raptures once again just three minutes later as Rojo found space in the box after a corner and kneed the ball in. The game finally seemed to settle in the final 30 minutes as the pace of the game slowed down.

FIFA World Cup 2014 Points Table: Group-wise team standings and results

FIFA World Cup 2014 Fixtures: Football World Cup Schedule & Time Table in IST

FIFA World Cup 2014 Top Goal-scorers

Catch all the coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2014

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Brisbane

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Barbados won by 6 wkts (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Perth Scorchers won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

Photos

Barbados Tridents vs Hobart Hurricanes, CLT20 2014

Videos

Arjuna Ranatunga shares his views on U-19 cricket

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

Sachin Tendulkar fans turn Durga Puja pandal into cricket stadium

Pakistan players would be allowed in IPL soon, hopes Shahryar Khan

Nawaz Sharif’s only First-Class appearance

Ernie Jones — the man who sent a ball through the beard of WG Grace

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Barbados Tridents Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab KKR vs Dolphins Kolkata Knight Riders

High Court forms selection committees for Rajasthan cricketers

Rohit Sharma ruled out of India-West Indies ODI series

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should appoint Virat Kohli as Test captain: Mohammad Azharuddin

CLT20 2014: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to maintain consistency against Chennai Super Kings says George Bailey

Kolkata Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss surprised at Sunil Narine’s action being reported

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

CLT20 2014: Players who impressed in the league stage

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

CLT20 2014: Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers, Match 19, Highlights

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

6 changes that take place in your breasts during pregnancy

How to Revive Old Trends and Fall in Love With Your Clothes — Again

NGOs pursue education for all

5 BB Creams for Darker Skin Types

Leaked: Mrunal Jain goes semi nude – view pic!

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

Alia Bhatt goofs-up again, unaware of Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan’s resignation!

Why a steady heartbeat is bad for you

Windows 10 Technical Preview now available, here’s how to download it

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here