Nigeria’s knockout round fate was moving from in to out and back again all afternoon, as a duel with Argentina played out in Porto Alegre.
A pair of first half goals from Lionel Messi staked the Albiceleste to 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa found equalizers on both occasions before Marcos Rojo’s 50th minute tally put Argentina back on top.
Messi’s second goal was for the highlight reels (WATCH HERE), as he bent his free kick over the wall, leaving Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama looking like a man without a clue. Enyeama was otherwise strong despite the scoreline.
Here’s what we were saying at halftime.
But Nigeria took just two second-half minutes to find its equalizer through Musa, who darted through a pair of Argentine defenders to slot home.
The advantage was short-lived, as Rojo redirected a headed-down cross to restore Argentina’s one-goal lead for a third time.
John Obi Mikel nearly equalized again in the 62nd minute before flubbing his shot/cross/something. Nigeria pushed forward often over the course of the half, but Argentina’s effective counter did everything but include goals.
By the game’s end, word may have reached that Bosnia and Herzegovina had clinched safety for Nigeria, but it wasn’t clear by the intensity on the field. The 3-2 match was certainly entertaining.
Nigeria: Enyeama, Yobo, Ambrose, Musa, Odemwingie (Nwofor, 80′), Emenike, Mikel, Oshaniwa, Onazi, Babatunde (Uchebo, 66′), Omeruo
Goals: Musa 2 (4′, 47′)
Argentina: Romero, Garay, Zabaleta, Gago, Di Maria, Higuain, Messi (Alvarez, 67′), Mascherano, Rojo, Fernandez, Aguero (Lavezzi, 37′)
Goals: Messi 2 (3′, 45′), Rojo (49′)