MATCH CENTRE

WED 25 JUNE 2014, 18:00, ESTADIO BEIRA-RIO

2
VS
3

Nigeria qualify for World Cup knockout

by Samm Audu

Wed June 25, 20:01

African champions Nigeria have qualified for the World Cup knockout round of 16 despite losing 3-2 to Argentina in a thrilling final Group F match in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

Bosnia-Herzegovina won the other group game against Iran 3-1 to finish third on three points.

The Super Eagles thus became the first African team to reach this stage of the tournament and it is only the third time they have done so after they so advanced in 1994 and 1998.

It was also the fourth loss for Nigeria at the hands of the South Americans in as many World Cup matches.

Nigeria are now most likely to face Group E winners France in the Round of 16 clash, while group winners Argentina take on the runners-up in Group E, likely to be Switzerland.



Argentina went in front after just three minutes through their talisman and birthday boy Lionel Messi, who blasted home a rebound when Angel di Maria’s shot crashed against the post after the South Americans ripped open the Eagles defence.

However, the outstanding Ahmed Musa drew Nigeria level a minute later, when he latched on to a through ball by Ogenyi Onazi, cut back before he let fly past goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

In first half, stoppage time, Messi restored his team’s lead when he curled his free kick from outside the box beyond a stranded Vincent Enyeama.

This was after the Lille shot stopper had turned away for a corner a similar Messi free kick for a corner.

Ahmed Musa netted his brace in the 47th minute when he dashed through the Argentina defence after he was set up by Emenike.

But Marcos Rojo cashed in on poor defending when he scored his first international goal by restoring Argentina lead three minutes later, when it appears he helped the ball inside the net with his knee.

Enyeama again proved to be the stumbling block for Argentina and Di Maria with several big saves.

He was outstanding in the 52nd, 55th and 78th minutes.

Mikel had a chance to get Nigeria back in the groove, but he skied his effort from inside the post.

In the 79th minute, Ahmed Musa was denied his hat-trick courtesy of a timely tackle inside the box by Pablo Zabaleta.

Nigeria will now have to sweat on the fitness of Babatunde Michael after he injured his hand when Onazi’s shot rocketed off it.

Argentina controlled the ball from the first half and attacked in waves for the opening goal.

Enyeama was called to duty after nine minutes, when Di Maria fired home from distance and almost immediately Gonzalo Higuain threatened to double his team’s advantage.

Osaze Odemwingie shot wide in the 27th minute from 20 yards.

After 37th minute, Argentina were forced to replace the injured Sergio Aguero.

Despite going 2-1 down in the first 45 minutes, Nigeria would have been delighted going into the dressing room as they still were not out of the picture.

MATCH STATISTICS
MATCH VENUE REFEREE
GROUP STAGE ESTADIO BEIRA-RIO
NIGERIA GOALS ARGENTINA GOALS
10. Lionel Messi (2')
10. Lionel Messi (45 + 1')
16. Marcos Rojo (50')
CAUTIONS DISMISSALS CAUTIONS DISMISSALS
NIGERIA STARTING LINEUP ARGENTINA STARTING LINEUP
Goalkeeper
1
Goalkeeper
1
Defender
2
Defender
2
Forward/Striker
66'
18
17
Forward/Striker
80'
8
Defender
50'
16
Defender
4
Midfielder
7
Midfielder
5
Midfielder
14
Forward/Striker
90'
9
Forward/Striker
2'
45 + 1'
63'
10
Forward/Striker
38'
20
SUBSTITUTIONS
Okechukwu Uchebo
Forward/Striker
66'
20
Ezequiel Lavezzi
Forward/Striker
38'
22
Ricardo Alvarez
Midfielder
63'
19
Lucas Biglia
Midfielder
90'
6
CARDS
KEY
Goal
Penalty Missed
Yellow Card
Substitute IN
Own Goal
Penalty Shootout Goal
Yellow / Red Card
Substitute OUT
Penalty
Penalty Shootout Miss
Red Card
Injury
GALLERY
COMMENTS
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