Argentina escapes the group stage with dramatic goal in closing minutes against Nigeria

Richard Heathcote/Getty ImagesAfter a rough start to the 2018 World Cup, Argentina gutted out a victory over Nigeria in dramatic fashion, scoring in the closing minutes to escape to the knockout round.
  • Argentina is through to the knockout stage of the World Cup after a dramatic win over Nigeria in its final match of the group stage.
  • The victory came with the help of Lionel Messi, who scored the opening goal of the match, as well as a late game-winner from Marcos Rojo that sent Argentina through.
  • Argentina will face France in its first match of the knockout stage, and the country attempts to get back to the World Cup final.

Argentina found a way to survive the group stage of the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday, defeating Nigeria 2-1 to finish second in Group D with four points.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant display of footwork and handling after receiving a pass from teammate √Čver Banega, settling the ball and striking it confidently into the back of the net to give Argentina an early 1-0 lead.

Nigeria would knot the game at 1-1 with a penalty kick from Victor Moses, putting his team in strong position to advance – if Nigeria could hold on to a draw and Croatia held on to their match against Iceland, Nigeria would be through to the knockout stage for the second straight World Cup.

With Nigeria battening down the hatches of its defensive front, Argentina took control of possession as the match came into its final minutes but struggled to break through.

Then, in a moment, they struck.

In the 86th minute, Gabriel Mercado sent a cross into the box, and Marcos Rojo found just enough space to volley a strike right past the goalkeeper.

With a 2-1 lead, Argentina simply needed Croatia to get a result out of its match with Iceland for Messi and company to make it through. Croatia’s lead held, and Argentina is now set for a knockout round matchup against France.

Messi’s impossible dream of bringing Argentina a World Cup isn’t over yet.

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