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World Cup 2018: Nigeria 1-2 Argentina: 3 key battles that decided the game

Shyam Kamal
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
5.27K   //    27 Jun 2018, 02:47 IST

Nigeria v Argentina: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
It might have taken it time, but all that matters is that they made it

For those of you who were asking where Messi was, and why he isn't capable of stepping up when it really matters, HERE IS YOUR ANSWER. After literally, everyone had written off the Argentinian team, they beat Nigeria in a thrilling 2-1 margin to qualify for the RO16.

It took Messi merely 15 minutes into the game to get his first goal of the tournament, and send Argentinian fans into a dizzy everywhere.

But, the beginning of the second half saw Nigeria being awarded a soft penalty, and the agony lasted until the last 3 minutes, until Marcos Rojo came out of nowhere to put Argentina into the lead.

With Croatia finishing top of their group, Argentina will now have to face France in the next round. At this point, just bring on anybody.

As always, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final outcome of the game. Here's a look at 3 of them:


#1 Lionel Messi vs John Obi Mikel

Nigeria v Argentina: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Cometh the hour, cometh the man!

You could see just how much it meant to him tonight. This game alone saw Messi more pumped and more with a thirst for victory than in the two previous games combined, and if that is not good enough to win, nothing will be.

The second goal was created from the feet of Banega, but Messi's ability and finishing on that ball cannot be ignored. With a deft touch with his thigh, he got the ball down and with another glorious touch, he got away from there and from then on, it was just routine Messi stuff.

In the battle of the captains, it is not surprising that he came out on top. It was Messi who denied Mikel the FIFA U-20 World Cup (the pair took home the Golden Ball and the Silver Ball) in the final, and history repeated itself once more.

More than the goal, it was the commitment that made Messi look good - something that was sorely missing in the previous games. He completed 7 dribbles across the 90 minutes, including 2 key passes and surprisingly, 1 tackle.

In stoppage time, you could see him diving into tackles in the opposition box to ensure that they did not get the ball, and what more can you ask for from your captain?

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Shyam Kamal
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