Messi brace leads Argentina by Nigeria 3-2; Group goes to Albiceleste

Leave a comment

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.

Lineups

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′)

Rapids add longtime Bundesliga winger Aigner from 1860 Munich (highlights)

Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images For MAN
Leave a comment

The Colorado Rapids are hoping for an injection of offense from veteran Bundesliga right winger Stefan Aigner.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old has played 274 games between the first and second tiers of German soccer, with 25 goals and 25 assists in Bundesliga play and a further 31 and 25 in the second tier.

Most recently with 2.Bundesliga side 1860 Munich for a third time, he’s played most of his career between Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt.

[ MORE: BVB’s Merino to Newcastle ]

Aigner has the resume to succeed and perhaps star in MLS, especially if he wasn’t slowed too much by a knee injury last season (He returned and produced at the 2.Bundesliga level).

Here’s what Rapids interim general manager Padraig Smith said:

“We’re excited to add a player of Stefan’s caliber to our roster for the next three-and-a-half years,” said Smith. “As an organization we are committed to fielding a forward-thinking side and bringing in Stefan – a technical and versatile player who can excel in multiple attacking roles – will help us achieve that vision.”

UEFA Champions League wrap: Celtic held; U.S. GK Horvath busy

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was a busy night in the UEFA Champions League, with clubs battling for berths in the playoff round where they could draw big names Liverpool, Napoli, Sevilla, Sporting CP or Hoffenheim.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 


Club Brugge 3-3 Istanbul Basaksehir

American backstop Ethan Horvath was under siege at home, but his Club Brugge side overcame throwing away a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-3 draw with İstanbul Başakşehir. The three road goals will give the Turkish visitors every reason to feel good about the Aug. 2 second leg.

Celtic 0-0 Rosenborg

Brendan Rodgers‘ Scottish champions outshot the visitors 12-8, but couldn’t find a way into the goal. Now the Bhoys will have to score in Norway to advance to the next round.

Nice 1-1 Ajax

Mario Balotelli‘s 32nd minute staked Nice to a halftime lead, but the UEFA Europa League finalists snared an away goal through Donny van de Beek to send Ajax back to Holland with a slim advantage.

UCL first legs

Tuesday
Qarabag 0-0 Sheriff
Slavia Prague 1-0 BATE Borisov
AEK Athens 0-2 CSKA Moscow
Steaua Bucharest 2-2 Plzen
Vardar 1-0 Copenhagen
Partizan Belgrade 1-3 Olympiacos

Wednesday
Astana 3-1 Legia Warsaw
Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 Young Boys
RB Salzburg 1-1 Rijeka
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-0 Ludogorets Razgrad
Viitorul 1-0 APOEL Nicosia
Maribor 1-0 FH

Terim steps down as Turkey manager after restaurant fight

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) Turkey’s soccer federation says it has parted ways with national team manager Fatih Terim.

The announcement on Wednesday came weeks after Terim and his two sons-in-law were involved in a fight with a restaurant owner.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 

The Turkish Football Federation statement said Terim, 63, and the federation agreed that “it would be healthier for both sides to part ways,” saying non-football related issues were harming both Terim and the federation.

It also thanked Terim, who has headed the national team since 2013, for his services.

Terim previously managed Galatasaray, Milan and Fiorentina. There was no word on who would replace him.

BVB mid Merino reportedly undergoing Newcastle medical

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been a wild year for Mikel Merino, and now the Spaniard is close to playing for a legend from his home country.

Merino joined Borussia Dortmund from Osasuna last summer, and the 21-year-old had a hard time getting playing time under Thomas Tuchel.

[ MORE: Gold Cup Final preview ]

A defensive midfielder who also plays center back and a bit further up the pitch, Merino is set to join Rafa Benitez on loan at Newcastle United for the club’s return to the Premier League next month.

Merino was photographed in Newcastle on Wednesday, and would join a central midfield with Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden. Both players thrived in the Championship last season.

The Magpies turned Christian Atsu‘s loan permanent to start the summer, and then purchased Florian Lejeune, Jacob Murphy, and Javier Manquillo.