The Argentina captain Lionel Messi led from the front as the two-time champions entered the FIFA World Cup pre-quarterfinals by registering a 2-1 triumph over Nigeria in their final Group D match at St Petersburg on June 26.
Lionel Messi’s strike in the 14th minute gave Argentina a much-needed lead over the Nigerians.
Messi, who was stationed at right-forward, received a long-range aerial pass from the centre of the pitch from Ever Banega. The Argentina captain controlled the ball with his thigh before barging into the box and firing to the left corner of the net despite being pushed towards the right side by Kenneth Omeruo.
— Marie Mesi (@MarieMesi) June 27, 2018
This was Messi’s first goal in the ongoing World Cup.
— C. Coy (@coachcoy23) June 27, 2018
Soon after Messi managed to put the ball into the opponent’s net, his fans erupted in joy and started pouring congratulatory messages on Twitter.
Lionel Messi has scored 65 goals for his nation so far and only one in this World cup edition;
If you don’t know against who he has scored these goals, just have a look at the photo!
— BarcaTimes (@BarcaTimes) June 27, 2018
so never underrated #Messi and #Argentina they delivered where matter the most ….
messi u beauty control ur nervous nd took ur team into PQF
#ArgentinaVsNigeria #WorldCup #Russia2018 #FifaWorldCup2018 pic.twitter.com/AaH9OQyrSH
— Shubham(shubh) (@shubham19onsong) June 27, 2018
In the jungle there is only one KING: lion
— Faisal (@yazeedy970) June 27, 2018
Some even tried to spark a debate by calling him better than Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
_ Ronaldo would have fall down by a world class acting to get a foul.
_ Messi will convert it this into a goal by an assist or shoot.
— Naveen N (@tweetstonaveen) June 27, 2018
Just imagine how many tweets from Ronaldo fans about Messi were left in the drafts last night pic.twitter.com/Sb53DqMaiW
— tHe AfRiCaN___ (@JhusBLaze) June 27, 2018
Christiano Ronaldo is talented meaning anyone can play like him while Messi is gifted meaning no one can play like him. Messi still the King who is living his legacy, while Christiano plays to outshine him.
— Kizzilah, The Last Of His Name__ (@kizzilah) June 16, 2018
But just four minutes into the second half, Nigerians managed to level the score as they successfully converted a penalty awarded after veteran midfielder Javier Mascherano was penalised for holding Leon Balogun inside the box while defending a corner.
Victor Moses kicked the ball to the left as Armani dived to the wrong side.
Another chance came Nigeria’s way in the 74th minute. Odion Ighalo, however, missed a golden opportunity to score.
In the 86th minute of the game, Argentina was brought back into the game by Marcos Rojo as he sent the ball to the right corner of Nigeria’s net to give Argentina the 2-1 lead.
Here’s what that Rojo goal meant for Messi, Sampaoli, Maradona and all Argentina and Messi fans. ___ pic.twitter.com/loQ5MP1zHx
— Brandon Booysen (@Boyas112) June 27, 2018
Following the win, Argentina have four points in total and they are second in their group behind Croatia, who have nine points. The other two teams in the group — Nigeria (three points) and Iceland (one point) — have crashed out of the tournament.