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

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son included in UP One-Day squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here