Connect with us

FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

Last-gasp Rojo’s Goal Pierce Dagger in Nigeria’s Round-16 Hopes

It was end of the road for Nigeria but a magical come back for Argentina as well as for a resuscitated Messi.

It was end of the road for Nigeria but a magical come back for Argentina as well as for a resuscitated Messi.

The end product leaves Africa with all but one team still fighting whose chances of reaching the Knockout Stages, like Nigeria in the build up to their eventual exit, hangs on a thin thread.

The Super Eagles who turned heads even before start of the Russia occasion with their eye-catching jerseys, needed just a draw to be assured of complete passage to the next round. But as matters would turn out, they lacked not only the self-belief to run at the Argentines but in the process fell way short of the heights they hit in the previous edition hosted by Brazil.

So much optimism spilled over the surface that it was almost unrealistic to imagine the West Africans bowing out. Up against a faltering Argentina outfit whose key man –Messi –has been at best uninspiring, the inclination has been to go whack the free-falling South Americans or at least so the players made rest of the continent believe.

Mikel –the most vociferous of the squad -vowed to drain his energy tank to ensure qualification.

But as many would later find out, Nigeria merely chased shadows and for their lack of self-trust, consequently got booted out of the tournament.

It started with defender Nicolas Alejandro Tagliafico sending sign of what was to come, skiing in a wayward shot wide in the Nigerian box.

Minutes later, Messi reduced the Super Eagles defence to a mess of some sort, blasting in the opening goal with almost relative ease after a pass from centre of the box.

It marked beginning of a torrid night for the West Africans with Angel Di Maria also proving a constant menace.

nigeria-vs-argentinaAhmed Musa would time to time try to inject in some ingenuity in attack but the Leicester City wide-man more often found himself crowded out. Argentina’s plans were clear from get-set-go. It was more a case of kill off the game in the first-ten minutes. And this was nearly the outcome if not for goalkeeper Francis Odinaka Uzoho’s brilliance to deny first Higuain and then parrying away Messi’s free-kick that rattled on the left-post.

Then against expectations, Mascherano appeared to bundle Troos-Ekong and Turkish referee Cakir pointed to the spot-kick.

Victor Moses stepped up to package the ball to the right side of the post, sending Argentina’s Armani the wrong way. Spirits of Nigerian fans had by now been liven up but the Eagles’ dogmatic approach to defend and wait on the counter did little to help their case. There were ample occasions for Nigeria to dampen the oppositions’ vigour with chances to Ndidi and Ighalo. The situation with the latter could have taken a different dimension had he smacked it at the top corner. Build-up to that was marred by cries of penalty by Nigeria after Marco Rojo looked to have conceded a handball in the box before Ighalo got to the end of that. The referee consulted the VAR but claimed to have seen no reason to dish out another penalty.

Then agony crept in with Rojo bulleting in the winner for Argentina four minutes from regular time. Glum descended on Nigeria extending to rest of the continent leaving Africa with only Senegal to cheer on.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

Translate »