Nigeria Out of 2018 FIFA World Cup

  • FT: Nigeria 1-2 Argentina
  • Argentina squeeze through
  • Nigeria out along with Iceland
  • Messi puts Argentina ahead (14)
  • Moses slots home pen (51)
  • Rojo with dramatic winner (86)

Saint Petersburg Stadium marked the end of the road for super Eagles Tuesday after the Gernot Rohr tutored side went down 2-1 to very desperate Argentina.

The Nigerian side who went into the match with advantage having earned initial three points from the defeat of Iceland, failed to capitalise on the edge over Argentina.  Two time world cup winners Argentina who were condemned to either pull a win or exit the World cup opened scoring in the 14th minute thanks to Lionel Messi who incidentally was earning his first goal in the tournament so far.

The South Americans maintained the lone goal lead to the end of first half.  On resumption of the second half however the Eagles came out smoking to earn a penalty in the 51st minute that was effectively converted by Victor Moses.

The Nigerians had every opportunity to maintain the draw to the end but failed to do so.  An opportunity for Eagles to shoot into the lead was bungled by Odion Ighalo who shot directly at the goalkeeper and called for penalty following handball.

The Referee however turned down the call after the VAR confirmed a no penalty verdict.  It was however the 86th minute of the match that Argentina turned the table after Marcos Rojo converted a well taken corner kick.  Efforts by the Eagles to seek a remedy for the unfortunate scenario failed to yield any result.  The defeat marks a continuation of wins by Argentina over Nigeria at competitive level.

Nigeria had before the world cup, beaten Argentina 4-2. 

The group stage exit by the Super Eagles is short fall from the usual round of 16 for which Nigeria has been known.

While Nigeria joins other African countries, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia who have since exited the world cup, Argentina will face France in the round of 16.

Match Live updates below(text)

90+4: Ball still in Nigeria’s half. Argentina are nearly there…

90+2: It’s all in Nigeria’s half. Messi nearly squeezes through on goal but is thwarted. Two minutes left.

90+1: Four minutes added on!

88: Croatia go 2-1 up on Iceland, meaning Iceland are essentially put to bed! St Petersburg has gone absolutely mad. Maradona is flicking the Vs at someone below him.

This is bizarre.




What is he doing in the penalty area? He latches onto Mercado’s right-wing cross, plum on the volley, and slams it past Uzoho from 12 yards. What a finish.

Argentine fans are in tears here. But it’s not over yet…

86: APPEAL! Meza goes down under pressure in the box, Argentina scream at Cekir, but it won’t even go to VAR!

Meza not appealing, which says it all.

86: CLOSE! What an effort from Etebo from 25 yards with the free-kick. It’s JUST wide of Armani’s left-hand post, hitting the side-netting.

85: SAVE! Rojo goes flying in on Ighalo just outside the box, but the former Watford man just slips past him. He’s at an angle, but his effort is blocked by Armani!

Banega then takes out Ndid on the edge. Argentina completely losing the plot here.


84: There really isn’t much of a plan to what Argentina are doing here, but it’s pressure nonetheless.

They win a corner via Pavon. Banega takes, but it’s SO poor again!

Argentina, on this showing, don’t deserve to go through.

82: Final Argentina change. Aguero is ON, replacing Tagliafico.

MISS! Higuain again should score! Rojo’s pull-back is superb, his run is perfect, but he slams it over the bar with his left foot from 10 yards!

80: This is fantastic theatre. Pinball in the box as it drops to Tagliafico on the left… he drives it down but Higuain can’t turn it home!

Higuain has been so poor tonight, and doesn’t react fast enough!

79: Iceland have equalised against Croatia. Sigurdsson with the penalty.

If Iceland score and Argentina score, Iceland go through! Such drama here for the final 10 minutes.

77: VAR! Big, big decision for the referee Cakir to make here! As the ball dropped down, it hit Rojo on the arm. Intentional? Who knows.

DECISION: NO PENALTY! Probably fair, but Nigeria are fuming.

76: MISS! What a miss by Ighalo!! Mascherano does brilliantly to clear, but Rojo gets stuck under the ball and deflects it to Igahlo in space, who sticks it just wide of the far post

75: As it stands, Nigeria will be facing France on Saturday in Kazan, while Croatia are playing Denmark on Sunday in the last 16.

74: Corner to Argentina. Time moving quickly now, things getting very, very desperate.

Pavon delivers this time, but it’s poor, and cleared at the near post.

73: SHOT! Good move from Nigeria, and after some superb work from Mikel, Ndidi can shoot 30 yards out.

He runs onto it and smashes it goalwards, but over the bar!

Change for Argentina; Di Maria off for Meza.

71: Nigeria are not actually playing majorly deep at the minute, and Argentina are struggling to get into the penalty area.

They’re sat in their half, but the back line is pretty much five yards outside their box. It’s working, but they will retreat.

69: Corner to Argentina, won by Pavon. They take it short, but Messi’s pass is blocked my Musa. Argentina win it back. They go again…

67: Ndidi, Etebo and Mikel have been impressive tonight. Composed, hard-working and retaining shape constantly. They’ll have a touch final 25 minutes, however.

64: Pavon looks up for this. He’s made two decent runs at the Nigeria defence, and looks to have been found on the second, but nothing given. Messi is furious.

Banega is then booked for a foul on Ndidi in midfield

62: Change for Argentina. Pavon is on to replace Perez, who has been largely quiet tonight.

61: Mascherano beaten all ends up by Musa at the byline, but his cut back is cut out and cleared well by Otamendi.

59: Here was Mascherano’s reaction. He’s only really got himself to blame, there.

The conceding of the corner was arguably worse than the penalty offence! Three Argentina players went for the same ball, with no communication and no Nigeria player in sight.

expanded thumbnail

57: Argentina fans getting right behind their side here in St Petersburg, but they’ve got it all to do again! Free-kick inside the Nigeria half. Argentina rushing like it’s very late on.

55: In Rostov, Croatia are 1-0 up against Iceland. It doesn’t change too much… Nigeria second, Argentina third, Iceland fourth.

53: Di Maria goes down at the other end under a soft challenge, claiming a penalty, but nothing given.

Banega is then very lucky to win the ball in the box from Musa! That could have been another penalty!

55: In Rostov, Croatia are 1-0 up against Iceland. It doesn’t change too much… Nigeria second, Argentina third, Iceland fourth.

53: Di Maria goes down at the other end under a soft challenge, claiming a penalty, but nothing given.

Banega is then very lucky to win the ball in the box from Musa! That could have been another penalty!

GOAL! NIGERIA 1-1 ARGENTINA (Moses pen, 51)

Disaster for Argentina and Mascherano. THREE Argentina players go through the same ball from a simple cross, and Mascherano heads the ball against the back of Rojo’s head for a corner.

From that corner, the penalty was given, and Moses makes no mistake, slotting low past Armani as he guesses wrong!


49: PENALTY TO NIGERIA! Mascherano has had a mare here. He’s given away a completely needless corner, and as it comes in, he hauls down Balogun for a penalty!

They go to VAR, but it’s given! It’s soft, but we’ve seen them given a few times this tournament!


47: Banega has been very, very good for Argentina. He wins the ball on the left touchline and starts an attack, but twice in quick succession Higuain’s touch lets him down.

46: Messi gives his players a pep talk just before re-entering the pitch in St Petersburg. We’re under way again…

HT: Argentina’s half, and Argentina are currently going through. Iceland have dominated Croatia in Rostov with no goal, but so much football to be played and so much time for things to change.

That man Messi has looked brilliant in the first half; he’ll be hungry to add to his goal and boost Argentina’s goal difference. Nigeria, will need to step up a tad, with debut goalkeeper Armani having very little to do.

Follow up live update. Match Kick off at 7;pm

45+2: Musa is caught by Mercado, and Nigeria can pile the box in the last minute of the half…

Taken from deep, but Rojo does well to clear. That’s half-time.

45+1: Two minutes added on.

43: CONTROVERSY! A deflected ball comes into the box, Iheanacho looks to go for it, but Rojo’s high boot clears it.

It’s a really unorthodox clearance, and Iheanacho has gone down like he’s been shot. Was there contact? Not sure, but no foul given.

40: Long throw into the box from Musa, cleared, before Etebo’s long-range half volley goes out for a throw in. Woeful.

38: Not long left until the break and we’re in the slowest part of the game.

Iceland so close to taking the lead against Croatia in Rostov, which would take them above Argentina on goal difference.

36: Big cheer for Armani as he collects an easy cross. That’s essentially the first thing he’s had to do tonight.

34: OFF THE POST! So close to a second for Messi! He goes for the far corner, and it comes off the post and clear! So unlucky.

He’s really in the mood tonight. Replays show Uzoho got the slightest touch on it, which may have helped it onto the post.

34: OFF THE POST! So close to a second for Messi! He goes for the far corner, and it comes off the post and clear! So unlucky.

He’s really in the mood tonight. Replays show Uzoho got the slightest touch on it, which may have helped it onto the post.

34: Shooting chance for Messi, 20 yards out on the left of the box… He fancies this.

32: CONTROVERSY! Banega with a superb through ball for Di Maria, who has a lot to do to get into the box!

Balogun comes across him, trips him, and it’s a yellow card for him! Argentina want a red, but I’m not sure he was last man. Omeruo was just about covering. He’s saved him from a sure red card.

29: I’d like to say Argentina have settled their anxiety, but they’re still knocking it around awkwardly like a hot potato. It has bounced off Higuain a few times so far.

27: CLOSE! Nearly a second for Argentina, and it’s created by some Messi brilliance.

What a ball, splitting open the Nigeria defence for Higuain, who gets there just before Uzoho. He almost tries to step on the bottom of the ball to lift it over the goalkeeper, but he does well to block it!

25: At the minute, Argentina are going through, with Nigeria 3rd and Iceland 4th. If Iceland go ahead, however, Iceland will leapfrog Argentina into second.

23: Nigeria have reacted well to going behind, settling down and keeping the ball, but it’s whistles from the stands every time they touch the ball.

18: Free-kick Argentina on the left, Di Maria crosses, but there’s holding in the box.

16: That was the 100th goal scored at this World Cup, and Maradona in the stands showed his delight, punching the air and kissing his shirt.

HE’S BACK! Arguably, he never really went away, but Messi has finally had an impact on this Argentina side in Russia.

It’s a fine finish, but Banega’s ball over the top from 50 yards is absolutely world class.

Messi collects it in the box, with one defender for company, but he takes one touch to the side and finds the far top corner from 12 yards at a slight angle!

14: Mascherano goes from zero to hero. His pass back is so, so loose, allowing Iheanacho a run through at goal with just Rojo in front of him. Mascherano paces back and wins it back sliding in.

13: Nigeria doing OK, mind. They’re getting about Argentina, winning the ball back often, and retaining a good shape.

11: Don’t want to speak too soon, but Messi looks in the mood. He gets a run at a couple Nigeria defenders, brekas free on the left of the box and crosses, but it’s blocked.

9: First sight of goal for Argentina. Messi feeds Banega, who gives it to Tagliafico on the left of the box, but he shoots wide on the stretch as Balogun puts him under pressure.

7: Argentina look very nervous. Mascherano gives the ball away on the right with a miscued pass, before Otamendi does brilliantly to block Etedbo’s run and shot from 25 yards.

Messi gets a chance to work his magic at the other end, and wins a free-kick 45 yards out.

5: First touch for Messi isn’t great. He gives it away on the right byline. Argentina win a free-kick back. Quite scrappy early on and not a lot of rhythm, but it’s electric in the stands.

3: Cheers for Franco Armani, the Argentina goalkeeper, for his first touch of the ball. A good confidence boost on his Argentina debut, believe it or not.

2: Otamendi sticks a ball out to Tagliafico, but it’s over-hit and into the stand. Early signs of anxiety from the Man City man.

Tagliafico claps the pass… I’ve never understood that.

1: And they’re off!



Nigeria can qualify with a draw or win against Argentina if Iceland lose or draw against Croatia, and coach Gernot Rohr was ruthless when asked about ending Lionel Messi’s World Cup campaign, which could potentially be his last.

“We love this great player, Messi, everybody loves him,” he said. “The question is not if it is the last World Cup for him or not, the question is for us to be qualified.

“We are not here to watch him play. We are here to make a result, we are professionals. We are here to defend the colours of Nigeria and we know in football there is no mercy, no pity, everybody wants to win and we cannot make any gifts even if we like very much this player.”


Team to play Nigeria: Armani, Mercado, Rojo, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Mascherano, Banega, Perez, Di Maria, Messi, Higuain

Argentina make five changes from the side who lost 3-0 against Croatia, including a change in-between the sticks…

Cabellero, Salvio, Acuna, Meza and Aguero come out for Armani, Rojo, Banega, Di Maria and Higuain.


Team to play Argentina: Uzoho, Idowu, Ndidi, Ekong, Balogun, Musa, Etebo, Mikel, Moses, Iheanacho, Omeruo

Nigeria, meanwhile, are unchanged after their win over Iceland.


Read carefully! Croatia also play Iceland in Rostov at 7pm.

  • Croatia have qualified
  • Nigeria can qualify with a draw or win against Argentina if Iceland lose or draw against Croatia
  • If Argentina beat Nigeria in their final game and Croatia beat Iceland, Argentina go through. They will also go through if they beat Nigeria, Iceland beat Croatia, and Argentina’s goal difference betters Iceland
  • Iceland must also beat Croatia in their final game to give themselves the chance of qualification and currently have a better goal difference than Argentina


  • Four of the eight games between Nigeria and Argentina have come at World Cup finals – Argentina winning all four contests.
  • Nigeria have faced Argentina in the group stages in each of their last three World Cups (2002, 2010, 2014).
  • Messi has had 12 shots in this World Cup so far but has yet to score – that’s eight more attempts than any other Argentina player.

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