Two goals from superstar Lionel Messi have lifted Argentina to a 3-2 victory over Nigeria in their final pool game of the 2014 World Cup at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre this morning.
Argentina and Nigeria both went into the game knowing that they were both likely to progress to the second round of the tournament, with Iran requiring an upset win over Bosnia-Herzegovina to knock out Nigeria, but that did not stop both sides coming out in an attacking formation.
It did not take long for Messi to have an impact on the fixture, with the Argentina taking advantage of a rebounded shot from Angel Di Maria to power home his third goal of the tournament and give his side an early lead.
The confidence of Nigeria was not shaken by conceding an earlier goal and they were able to equalize just over one minute later when Ahmed Musa bamboozled the Argentinean defense to score one of the most impressive goals of the tournament.
The game slowed down for the next 35 minutes, but Messi continue to dominate for Argentina and the Barcelona standout looked extremely dangerous each time that was in possession of the football.
Nigeria were able to deny Messi a second goal on a number of occasions, but the constant pressure was too much and the 27-year-old took advantage of a free kick just outside the box to curl a shot around the Nigerian defense and into the back of the net just before halftime.
Once again it did not take Nigeria long to respond and Musa produced another piece of individual to score his second goal of the game and stamp himself as an enticing prospect for transfer window before the start of the European football season.
Both sides continue to attack the other and Argentina were able to breakthrough for what turned out to be the winning goal through defender Marcos Rojo, who converted a corner to score his maiden international goal.
Messi was substituted at the 64th minute and Argentina lost their way slightly in the absence of their star player and Musa continued to create chances for Nigeria, but the African side were unable to claim an equalizer.
Although Nigeria were denied their second win of the 2014 World Cup, they were far from disgraced in their performance and progressed to the second round where they will take on France at Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha next Tuesday.
Argentina will play their round of sixteen game at Arena De Sao Paulo next Wednesday morning and are clear favourite to progress to the quarter finals against Switzerland.
Argentina are now available at 2014 World Cup odds of $5.25 to win the tournament, while Nigeria are one of the major outsiders at odds of $151.