Argentina strike late to advance to World Cup knockout stages

Argentina's Marcos Rojo celebrates scoring their second goal with Lionel Messi and teammates.
Argentina's Marcos Rojo celebrates scoring their second goal with Lionel Messi and teammates.
Image: REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A late goal by Marcos Rojo gave Argentina a dramatic 2-1 victory over Nigeria in Group D on Tuesday and sent the twice champions through to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Lionel Messi scored his first goal of the tournament in the 14th minute with an expertly taken shot.

However, Nigeria were level six minutes after the restart, when Javier Mascherano fouled Leon Balogun in the area and Victor Moses stepped up to slot the resulting penalty past Franco Armani.

With the game ebbing away from Argentina, Gabriel Mercado crossed from the right in the 86th minute and Rojo turned the ball into the goal with a first time strike to spark wild celebrations from the Argentines.

Argentina face France in the last 16 after finishing second in the group, while Croatia take on Group C runners-up Denmark. Nigeria and Iceland are out after finishing third and fourth, respectively.

Argentina great Diego Maradona appeared to need help to walk after watching his national team dramatically beat Nigeria to survive in the World Cup.

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