Argentina vs Nigeria: The biggest Deja Vu in FIFA World Cup history
The stage was set in group D for either Argentina, Iceland or Nigeria to join Croatia in the next round of the World, as the team that would eventually finish in second place. There were a lot of expectations from the fans who were hoping that it would be their team that would go through and there were some thrilling encounters lined up on the night, that really did not disappoint by any stretch of imagination.
The South Americans had to win their match against Nigeria if they wanted to have a chance to advance to the knockout stages. Though things had not gone right for Sampaoli's men so far, everything did depend on one "big performance" and how they would play on the night.
Not just did Iceland lose their game to Croatia 2-1, but Messi and co. managed to claim victory in a must-win match over Nigeria, with a late goal from an unlikely source.
It was the skipper who opened the scoring in the 14th minute, with a lot of chances to add to that, in the first half, though he was denied by Francis Uzoho on more than one occasion.
Victor Moses made it 1-1 in the 51st minute from the penalty spot and eventually, Rojo gave his team a new lifeline in the World Cup, with a winning goal in the 86th minute of the match.
A player that has seen his ups and downs in recent times, turned out to be the hero for his national team on a night when they really need that win.
However, this was not the first time that these two stars had done this to the Nigerians. Similarities to the game in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014:
Last game of the group
On either occasion, it was the last game of the group and a crucial one, being played out between these two sides, with the two teams looking for a win and ensure that they would be going through to the next round. Back in 2014, Argentina had already qualified for the next round and the African nation did so, despite their loss.
However, this time Nigeria did not secure qualification to the knockout stages like they did in the previous tournament. The group of death that they were in during the current tournament was just too much for them, though it must be said that anyone could have gone through along with Croatia, based on the results of the final game this time.
Exact same scorers for Argentina
It was Messi and Rojo who had scored three goals to diminish Musa's efforts to dust back in 2014, who had scored a brace, as Argentina secured a 3-2 win and topped the group back then. Despite that, Nigeria did make it to the next round back then.
Once again, it was the same pair that saw the African nation this time get knocked out of the competition. Though they had beaten Iceland emphatically, the loss was just too much for them and they had to go home. Imagine if Rojo hadn't scored, it would be the South Americans on their way back, due to an early exit.
Rojo scored both the winners
Rojo was the star even back then, as he scored a goal in the 50th minute which proved to be the winner of the game, though it came quite early in the second half. There were no more goals in that game.
On the other hand, this time he scored a late goal, which came in the 86th minute, snatching victory for his team and putting them through to the next round. Surely, this goal in Russia was much more crucial for them and his heroics will surely be remembered if they manage to go all the way.
Well, history has shown us a crazy turn of events over the years and this was nothing less and the fans will never forget this match. A lot of records have been broken in the World Cup already, but such wins that have a feeling of nostalgia go beyond that.
The thing to remember now is that Argentina are through to the next round of the tournament, where they will face off against France, with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs. What a cracking game that will be!!