5 times Lionel Messi saved Argentina

Apoorv Rastogi

#3 Argentina vs Nigeria, FIFA World Cup (3-2, 2014)

Messi scored a brace to grant Argentina a win
Messi scored a brace to grant Argentina a win

Another classic of the 2014 World Cup, Argentina's clash against Nigeria, is undoubtedly one of the most memorable 'Lionel Messi matches' in the history of international football. In the final group stage round of the tournament, both teams had separate motivations to attain victory in the said fixture.

While a Nigerian win would've propelled them to first place in Group F, Argentina needed the win to stay on top and maintain their impressive winning streak. With such an enticing script, the game had all the means to be an absolute blockbuster. And it turned out to be just that. Two goals in the first four minutes laid down the foundation for what was to come.

These are the stats from the 2014 World Cup, so sad that Messi had to do so much singlehandedly. Feels amazing that Argentina have a much better team now and they don't rely on Messi as much as they used to.

Having scored his side's opener, Lionel Messi scored for the second time in the dying embers of the first half to give Argentina the lead. Although it was Marcos Rojo who sealed the winner in the 50th minute, Lionel Messi's stunning display was the major reason behind Argentina's victory in the 3-2 thriller. With this win, Alejandro Sabella's men finished the group stage as table-toppers, with no losses on their record.

#2 Argentina vs Iran, FIFA World Cup (1-0, 2014)

Argentina v Iran: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Argentina v Iran: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Having sneaked past Bosnia and Herzegovina in their first World Cup fixture of 2014, Argentina entered their game against Iran as clear favorites. Led by Lionel Messi, La Albiceleste were expected to put in a rampant performance against a much-weaker Iran side, establishing their dominance in Group F in the process.

However, Carlos Queiroz's men proved to be a much more formidable foe for the Argentinians, enticing everyone with their spectacular play. Iran were effective in keeping the big guns of Argentina silent, even holding Lionel Messi captive until the last moment of the game.

#Throwback: Leo Messi v Iran. (2014 World Cup).🐐

Despite their brilliant showing, the Iranians were left helpless when the six-time Ballon d'Or winner decided to take things into his own hands. In the 91st minute of the game, Lionel Messi broke every defensive shackle that had kept him quiet for so long. With a sublime curler into the left corner, he secured a famous win for Argentina, breaking millions of Iranian hearts in the process.

#1 Argentina vs Ecuador, FIFA World Cup qualification (3-1, 2017)

The Argentine toyed with the Ecuador defence that evening
The Argentine toyed with the Ecuador defence that evening

Conforming to his 'Messiah' status, Lionel Messi proved that he is indeed Argentina's best shot at World Cup glory when he single-handedly saved his side from elimination. Languishing in a lowly sixth place, the 2014 runners up desperately needed a win in their clash against Ecuador to finish in the top four.

With the sword of not qualifying for a World Cup hanging on their heads, Argentina conceded a goal in the first minute of the match. However, with Lionel Messi on their books, Argentina are never really out of the picture. Bringing his A-game to the decisive match, La Pulga combined with Angel Di Maria to equalize in the 12th minute.

On this day in 2017, Lionel Messi scored a hat trick for Argentina in a 3-1 win vs. Ecuador. It was the last match in the World Cup qualifiers, a match Argentina had to win. It was in Ecuador, they took the lead after less than a minute. After that, Messi with three goals.

Just eight minutes after his first goal, Lionel Messi produced an absolute banger from the edge of the box to put his side ahead. Not content with the one-goal lead, the talismanic forward went on to complete his hat-trick in the 62nd minute with a marvelous solo effort, burying Ecuador in the process.

At the end of the final whistle, Argentina emerged as comfortable winners of the tie and went on to secure a place in the 2018 World Cup. All thanks to one man and one man only, that is Lionel Messi.

Also read: 5 players Real Madrid should have never sold

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Edited by Nived Zenith
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