Home FRONTPAGE Super Eagles Fly Out Of World Cup

Super Eagles Fly Out Of World Cup

Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi (C) and Nigeria’s midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo vie for the ball. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Nigeria is out of the World Cup after failing to overcome Argentina in their Group D clash at the St Petersburg Stadium.

Nigeria needed a win or a draw to progress, and came into the game with three points against Argentina’s one.

Victory would have guaranteed progress regardless of the outcome of Iceland’s clash with Croatia.

A draw for the Eagles meant they needed Croatia to defeat Iceland or earn a draw.

Although the game started with Argentina on the front foot, the Eagles grew in the game and were able to carve out a lot of chances.

Lionel Messi put his side ahead in the first half, but Nigeria levelled scores in the 51’st minute. Progress was within sight for Nigeria but an 86th-minute strike by Marcos Rojo denied them progress.

Early pressure and possession form the Argentines paid off in the 14th minute when Messi latched onto an Ever Banega ball upfield and gave Sampaoli’s men the lead.

Nigeria were rattled but reacted well and grew in the game.

The Super Eagles felt hard done after the referee refused to award them a penalty for Marcos Rojo’s challenge on Kelechi Iheanacho in the 45th minute.

Four minutes into the second half Nigeria got some reprieve when Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir pointed to the spot after Javier Mascherano tangled with Oghenekaro Etebo at a corner.

Moses confidently stepped up to send Franco Armani the wrong way on his international debut and put Nigeria on course for progress.

Despite giving Argentina the lead, Nigeria were able to deny him the opportunity to influence proceeded as he does brilliantly for Barcelona.

There was further VAR controversy when Nigeria were denied a second penalty when Rojo headed onto his own arm before substitute Odion Ighalo fired wide. Many Nigerians fans would rue Ighalo’s miss.

Ighalo was not done, however, as he missed another glorious chance when he shot too close to Armani and Nigeria were made to pay for their profligacy from the most unlikely source.

Sergio Aguero had been thrown on from the bench to join Messi and Higuain in attack, but it was Rojo who produced a striker’s finish on his weaker right foot to spark delirious scenes of celebration among the tens of thousands of Argentines in the stands.

Although the Super Eagles are out, they put up a fight and matched Argentina for shots and chances.

They had a total of eight shots (three on targets and five off target), compared to Argentina’s seven shots (four on target and three off target).
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.


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