Argentina defeated the African Champions Nigeria 3-2 to qualify top of their World Cup group, while Bosnia and Herzegovina’s win over Iran means that Nigeria get through too.
Lille’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama represented Nigeria whilst Monaco’s goalkeeper Sergio Romero started for the Argentinians with PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi coming off the bench to replace Sergio Aquero after 38 minutes.
Both goalkeepers had been beaten within five minutes. Argentina’s Lionel Messi after he smashed the ball past Enyeama in the Nigerian goal. Angel Di Maria was the recipient off a lovely pass from the centre circle, only to see his shot squeeze past the Lille number 1 before bouncing off the post. The ball rebounded off Enyeama’s back onto the post before falling to Messi’s feet for him to rifle home.
Their advantage didn't last long, only 80 seconds. Michel Babatunde burst through the Argentine midfield before laying the ball to Ahmed Musa who curled the ball beyond Monaco’s Romero after pulling the ball onto his stronger foot.
Enyeame was kept the busier of the two goalkeepers, facing 13 shots on target. He made a fantastic save to deny Messi a second from a free kick but was helpless moments later.
Another free kick went Argentina’s way and Messi curled a unbelievable free kick, over the way into the corner of the goal. The shot was so deceiving that the Lille goalkeeper didn’t bother to dive, although did try and make up the ground. Even if he had attempted to save it, the quality of the free kick would have meant it probably still would have evaded him.
Musa levelled the scores moments after the half time, playing a one two with Chelsea target Emmanuel Emenike to once again split the defence. Running through on goal, he fooled Romero into diving the wrong way, slipping the ball in the opposite direction. He becomes the first Nigerian to score two goals in a World Cup game.
Enyeame was kept busy as Argentina pushed for a winner, making three good saves from Di Maria, who was desperate to get his first goal of the tournament. The decisive goal came from a corner, taken by Lavezzi. Defender Marcos Rojo managed to connect his knee with the ball to score his first international goal and give Argentina the victory.
With Iran losing 3-1 to Bosnia, Nigeria clinch the second placed spot and face a tricky game against France, who until last night were in free flowing goal scoring mode. Argentina will face Switzerland, who haven’t been as defensively tight as they are renowned for, but have been scoring freely which could cause the Argentinian defence, the team’s weak spot, some problems.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU