Rojo strikes late to send Argentina through in World Cup 2018

Marcus Rojo scores the winner in the 86th minute to send two-time champions into the next round.

    Argentina was runner-up at the 2014 tournament [Toru Hanai/Reuters]
    Argentina was runner-up at the 2014 tournament [Toru Hanai/Reuters]

    Follow Al Jazeera's coverage of the World Cup 2018 here.

    Argentina, two-time world champions, left it late to secure a place in the knockout round of the World Cup.

    A late goal by Marcos Rojo gave Argentina a dramatic 2-1 victory over Nigeria in Group D and sent the 2014 runners-up to the next round.

    In front of a massive following of passionate and loud Argentine fans, the game began in ideal fashion for Jorge Sampaoli's side, who had managed just a point from their opening two games.

    Lionel Messi scored his first goal of the tournament in the 14th minute with an expertly taken shot.

    It had been an impressive half from Argentina but the game was to take a twist shortly after the interval. 

    Nigeria were level six minutes after the restart, when Javier Mascherano fouled Leon Balogun in the area and Victor Moses stepped up to slot the resulting penalty past Franco Armani.

    Nigeria wasted several chances to add a second and secure their place in the last-16 before the unlikely source of Manchester United central defender Rojo kept Argentina's tournament alive and left Nigeria in despair.

    Moses' goal seemed to have taken Nigeria into the knockout rounds [Toru Hanai/Reuters]


    Argentina's close win was celebrated wildly in Buenos Aires where thousands had gathered to watch the match.

    Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo, reporting from the capital, said "it seemed like Argentina had won the World Cup".

    "In Argentina, it seemed like the final. People went from crying to celebrating in a matter of seconds," she said.

    "People realised it had not been easy since the last World Cup where the team reached the final. Accusations of corruption, Messi quitting the team before coming back and the team's poor show this year, it all added up.

    "The win was seen as a miracle."

    And there are high expectations from the team now.

    "At least we now have a team that is playing with some sort of spirit," 36-year-old Juan Colunga told Al Jazeera while celebrating in Buenos Aires.

    "We saw Messi for the first time since this World Cup began. We still have a long way to go but this match was completely different to what we've seen from the team prior to that."

    Argentina face France in the last-16 after finishing second in the group, while Croatia take on Group C runners-up Denmark.

    Nigeria and Iceland are out after finishing third and fourth, respectively.   

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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