Saturday 24 August, 2019

Messi, Argentina scrape into round of 16 with 2-1 win over Nigeria

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the group D match between Argentina and Nigeria, at the 2018 World Cup in the St Petersburg Stadium in St Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the group D match between Argentina and Nigeria, at the 2018 World Cup in the St Petersburg Stadium in St Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Argentina scraped into the knockout stage of the World Cup after a tense 2-1 victory over Nigeria in a must-win last group game.

Defender Marcos Rojo scored in the 86th to secure the win with volley from the right to spark wild celebrations on the Argentina bench.

After Lionel Messi's exquisite 14th-minute goal was canceled out by Victor Moses' penalty in the 51st minute, Argentina was in danger of being eliminated without winning in Russia.

It took an unlikely goal by Rojo — a centre back — to save Argentina and help the two-time world champion finish in second place behind Croatia in Group D.

Argentina will play France in the last 16 in Kazan on Saturday and Messi's ambition of a first world title is still alive

In the simultaneous match in Rostov-on-Don, Croatia sent Iceland home with a 2-1 defeat on second-half goals by Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic. Iceland had several chances to tie or take the lead, and a win would have seen them advance instead of Argentina.

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