The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been eliminated from the ongoing FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia after Argentina struck late through Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo to secure a 2-1 win in their Group D clash at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg.
Argentina knew only a win would give them the chance to book a spot in the knockout stage and they were boosted in the 14th minute when star man Lionel Messi controlled a fantastic Ever Banega pass before putting the ball in the net past the despairing dive of Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
Nigeria didn’t really trouble the South Americans’ rearguard in a timid first half performance.
The three-time African champions started the second half better and were rewarded when former Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano was adjudged to have fouled Leon Balogun.
Chelsea player Victor Moses stepped up to level matters for Gernot Rohr’s side.
In search of the winning goal, Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli threw everything at the Nigerians who failed to punish their opposition with decent chances that fell to players like Wilfred Ndidi and substitute Odion Ighalo.
The pressure eventually paid off four minutes from time when Marcos Rojo broke Nigeria’s hearts with a fine finish.
Argentina held on thereafter to end a record four-game winless streak at the World Cup.
Group C leaders Croatia defeated Iceland 2-1 in the other group game with all the goals coming in the second half.
Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic were on target for the Croatians either side of Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal for Iceland from the spot.
With the victory, Croatia set a record of winning three successive World Cup matches for the first time.
Argentina will now face Group C winners France in the knockout stage, while Croatia and Group C runners-up Denmark will fight for a place in the quarterfinal.
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