Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Messi magic

Argentina edge Nigeria 3-2


TALISMAN: Argentina’s Lionel Messi is carried by his teammates Argentina’s Angel di Maria (7) and Marcos Rojo (16) after scoring his side’s first goal during the group F World Cup match against Nigeria at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, yesterday. –Photo: AP

Mark Fraser


Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in their last World Cup group match yesterday, with Lionel Messi and Ahmed Musa scoring two goals each before Marcos Rojo kneed in the winner. Argentina won Group F while Nigeria also advanced despite the loss. Messi opened the scoring in the third minute, slamming in the rebound after Angel Di Maria’s shot bounced off the post. Nigeria replied within a minute as Musa cut in from the left and beat Sergio Romero with a curling shot toward the far post.

Messi’s perfectly hooked free kick restored the lead for Argentina just before half-time. The Argentina captain has scored in each of the team’s three matches, and now has a total of four goals. The second half started at the same furious pace as the first, with two goals within the first five minutes. First Musa took advantage of confusion in the Argentine defence to score his second. Then Rojo made it 3-2 as he got his right knee on a corner kick three minutes.

Tens of thousands of Argentine fans had travelled to Porto Alegre for the match, taunting Brazilian spectators by singing “Maradona is greater than Pele” at the 44,000-capacity Beira-Rio Stadium. The Brazilians booed and held up five fingers to remind the Argentines of how many World Cups they’ve won. Argentina has two.