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

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Melbourne

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 68 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Josh Hazlewood looks back at his 5-wicket haul

Live Cricket Score India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Australia win by 4 wickets

Pakistan vs New Zealand, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi: Key clashes

Live Cricket Score, South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 3 at Centurion: Samuels and Chanderpaul rebuild for West Indies

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi Preview: Teams prepare for high-octane finale

Anil Kumble Australia India Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin Ricky Ponting South Africa

Australia beat India by 4 wickets in 2nd Test at Brisbane; take unassailable 2-0 series lead

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Steven Smith run out with 8 needed to win

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Shaun Marsh out for 17

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Ishant Sharma takes third wicket

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Chris Rogers scores crucial half-century

New Zealand vs Pakistan, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi: Marks out of 10 for Kiwis

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail tales

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail ought to take leaf out of Australian tail’s book

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: India’s pathetic bowling performance, Mitchell Johnson’s onslaught and other highlights

India’s inability to dismiss Australia’s tail can have huge impact

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here