Lionel Messi and Marcos Rojo produce moments of magic as Argentina book their place in the Round of 16 with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Nigeria. Elsewhere, Croatia top Group D with a win over Iceland.Nigeria 1-2 Argentina, Saint-Petersburg stadium
(Moses pen 51′ — Messi 14′, Rojo 86′)
Marcos Rojo was the hero as his 86th minute goal kept Argentina in the World Cup, and sent Nigeria home.
The Argentines have endured a turbulent campaign, picking up only one point ahead of this must-win game against a Nigeria team who simply needed to win to confirm their place in the last 16.
All eyes were on Argentina’s star man, Lionel Messi, going into this game and the Barcelona forward delivered the moment of magic, gathering Ever Banega’s pinpoint pass and finishing sumptuously into the opposite corner, delivering a killer blow in three devastating touches.
Argentina had a spring in their step and threatened to add a second, but the game swung Nigeria’s way early in the second half when they were awarded a penalty after Javier Mascherano was adjudged to have dragged Balogun to the ground. While it was a harsh decision by usual standards, it was the type of foul that VAR have been awarding throughout this tournament.
Victor Moses, the Chelsea right back, stepped up and calmly sent stand-in goalkeeper, Armani, the wrong way to level the game and put Nigeria on course to book their place in the Round of 16.
Argentina cranked up the pressure as a result with Gonzalo Higuain spurning a huge chance to win it — but the Juventus striker could not keep his shot down.
Their moment came three minutes from time as Nigeria’s resistance was eventually broken courtesy of Rojo, an unlikely source, whose controlled volley flew past Uzoho.
The Argentines had their Toni Kroos moment and the Argentina fans, an overjoyed Diego Maradona included, were sent into ecstasy. Argentina are through by the skin of their teeth, and their reward is a mouth-watering contest with France in Kazan on Saturday.
Iceland 1-2 Croatia, Rostov Arena
(Sigurdsson 76′ pen — Badelj 53, Perisic 90′)
Ivan Perisic’s emphatic late finish rubber-stamped top spot in Group D, as winless Iceland bowed out against Croatia who became the first side to win all three group stage games.
With first place virtually assured, coach Zlatko Dalic rested eight players, including midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
Having offered little as an attacking force in the first half, Croatia struck early in the second as Iceland’s dream of recreating their Euro 2016 heroics slowly ebbed away. Badelj showed great technique to get over the ball and bury his shot beyond Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty gave Iceland some late hope, but Perisic’s clinical late-minute strike extinguished any lingering ambitions of a winner.
As it happened:
FULL TIME! Nigeria 1-2 Argentina
Argentina scrape through into the World Cup 2018 Round of 16. They had to win and they got the job done. Messi produced a magic moment to put Argentina ahead, but it was still far from a glittering performances from the side that reached the final four years ago. Relief will be the overiding emotion.
Heartbreak for Nigeria who looked to be going through until Marcos Rojo popped up to score an unlikely winner. So much promise in that young side. They’ll be amongst the dark horses in 2022.
FULL TIME! Iceland 1-2 Croatia
Croatia make it three wins out of three to top Group D. Iceland made life difficult for them, but didn’t have enough to get the result they needed to keep their fairytale going.
90′ – AS IT STANDS!
Croatia will progress as winners of Group D and face Denmark. Argentina will finish in second and book themselves a date with France.
90′ – Iceland 1-2 Croatia
GOAL! Ivan Perisic looks to have put the game beyond Iceland after firing across goal to find the far corner. Iceland had commited men forward and get caught out at the back.
86′ – Nigeria 1-2 Argentina
GOAL! They’ve done it! Argentina get the goal that could secure their spot in the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Russia. I don’t know what Marcos Rojo is doing in that position, but he meets a cross with a superb first-time volley that finds the bottom corner. Has Rojo just saved Messi’s bacon?
85′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
PENALTY CLAIM! Argentina want a penalty for a foul on Higuain. Not given. Moses looked to have done really well there.
85′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
CHANCE! Free-kick for Nigeria is sent… into the side netting! Oh my that was close.
83′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
CHANCE! Argentina are throwing caution to the wind and leaving themselves very exposed at the back. Ighalo almost pounces, but is denied by Armani. It’s so tense!
81′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
CHANCE! He has to score. There’s no two ways about it. Argentina break to the byline with ease. The ball is rolled back to Gonzalo Higuain who blazes over with his first-time effort from ten yards out. What a waste.
79′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
It’s all one way traffic in favor of Argentina. Sergio Aguero has finally come on. Five, ten, 79 minutes too late? Argentina only need one goal to progress.
77′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
NO PENALTY! The referee reviews the footage. The ball did hit Rojo’s arm, but it wasn’t intentional and not enough to warrant a penalty. Time is running out for Messi and Co.!
76′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
CHANCE! Marcos Rojo makes a mess of a clearnace. The ball falls to Ighalo. He has to score, but can’t even hit the target. Was there a handball in there though?
76′ – Iceland 1-1 Croatia
GOAL! Gylfi Sigurdsson, having missed a penalty against Nigeria, steps up and slots the ball into the roof of the net. It’s all level! IThey still need a miracle to get through.
75′ – Iceland 0-1 Croatia
PENALTY! Iceland have a penalty. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross catches Dejan Lovren on the arm.
71′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
CHANCE! Nigeria break with Musa. His pass is dummied by Ighalo and runs to Ndidi. The midfielder goes for a first time effort which sails just over the bar.
69′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
Nigeria are starting to sit deep, giving Argentina all the impetus in the game Ahmed Musa had a chance to break a second ago, but no one ran with him in support and Argentina had the ball back within seconds of losing it. It could be a long last 20 minutes for Nigeria. They’ve got to stay switched on.
67′ – Iceland 0-1 Croatia
Iceland are struggling to carve out chances even though they’re starting commit more men forward. As it stands Croatia are booking a date with Denmark.
63′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
Pavon’s fresh legs have already made a difference. His pace alone is giving Nigeria problems, but the chances still aren’t presenting themselves for Argentina. The urgency is there. The ideas are right. The execution isn’t good enough.
60′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
Half an hour remains. Argentina need a win. Pavon is on for Perez. Dybala and Aguero are waiting in the wings.
58′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
Nigeria have really upped the tempo after levelling the scores and Argentina haven’t quite recovered from the setback. The pressure is back on Messi and Co. who are looking worried.
55′ – Iceland 0-1 Croatia
CHANCES! Twice in quick succession, Iceland defender Ingason thinks he’s equalized twice he’s denied. His second attempt hit the woodwork on it’s way through. No white flags being raised by Iceland as the thunderclap rings out around the stadium.
53′ – Iceland 0-1 Croatia
GOAL! Out of nowhere, Croatia take the lead against Iceland. The underdogs fail to clear their lines and, making a late run into the box, Milan Badelj is on hand to lash home the loose ball.
50′ – Nigeria 1-1 Argentina
GOAL! There’s a delay in the spot kick being taken after some handbags on the edge of the area. Victor Moses is unfazed and cooly sends the keeper the wrong way. Advantage Nigeria. Will Argentina come to rue that mistake by Mascherano.
49′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
PENALTY! Javier Mascherano tangles with Leon Balogun as they contest for a corner and Nigeria are awarded a penalty.
48′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
Dare we say it’s been quiet start to the second half.
SECOND HALF! We’re back underway in Group D. Lionel Messi has given his side a pep talk in the tunnel before they take to the pitch. Argentina need a second goal if Iceland’s chances at the end of the first half were anything to go by. More drama to follow?
Good omens for Argentina…
Of course he is…
Argentina have one foot in the World Cup knockout stage thanksto Lionel Messi’s moment of magic, but one goal could change everything in Group D. It should make for a fascinating second 45 minutes.
45′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
CHANCE! Iceland are attacking much more quickly now and draw another save out of Kalinic, who is at full stretch to tip Saevarsson’s curling effort away from danger. What an end to the half.
45′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
CHANCE! Iceland again go close, but this time Kalinic makes a superb save whether he knew much about it or not. Ingason challenges the keeper in the air, the ball is spilled to Bjarnason, whose goes for goal only to see Kalinic get a foot on the ball to turn it behind.
41′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
Modric goes down the other end and sends a long-range effort of his own off target.
40′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
SIDE NETTING! Iceland go within a whisker of getting a goal that could really throw the cat in amongst the pidgeons in Group D. Alfred Finnbogason plays a one-two with Gylfi Sigurdsson and whips a first time effort just wide with Kalinic worried. So close for Iceland!
39′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
Argentina are having a lot of the ball and seem to have plenty a lot of options at their disposal with Nigeria sitting off. Ever Banega for one is thriving with the extra time and space on the ball. He’s made a real difference.
37′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
Croatia have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four World Cup appearances, as many as they hid in their previous 12 in the competition. They haven’t really been troubled so far, which doesn’t bode well for Iceland. The problem is that they won’t be able to get through if they can’t get the ball off Croatia.
34′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
WOODWORK! Messi lines up a free-kick and smashes it against the post. He opted to go with one of the “wrong side of the wall” variety and almost caught Uzoho out. The Nigerian keeper just got a fingertip to the ball.
32′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
Some slick passing in midfield allows Banega to release Di Maria. Bearing down on goal he has his heels clipped by Leon Balogun who is lucky there was a covering defender. Else that would have been a striahgt red.
31′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
SAVE! Iceland are awarded a free-kick 25 yards out from goal on the left wing. Gylfi Sigurdsson fancies his chances and stings the palms of Kalinic in goal. Decent strike, but the keeper saw it the whole way.
30′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
Half an hour played. Argentina are much improved even if they haven’t hit top gear yet.
27′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
CHANCE! Messi almost turns provider. The Barcelona star slips a perfectly weighted pass into the run of Higuain, who fails to lift it over the onrushing Francis Uzoho. Exquisite pass. Poor finish. Uzoho gets clattered, but is ok to continue.
25′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
CHANCE! A long throw is flicked on at the near post by Magnusson, but no one is ready to pounce as the ball flashes dangerously across the face of goal.
22′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
The game has settled since Messi opened the scoring. Argentina aren’t getting ahead of themselves, while Nigeria are trying to find a way back into the game to no avail so far. Messi looks in the mood and with his side growing in confidence, Nigeria have every right to be a little nervous.
19′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
As it stands, Argentina will be joining group winners Croatia in the knockout stages, which has only upped the pressure on Iceland. News will filter through eventually. For now though chances remain at a premium at the Rostov Arena.
17′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
Free-kick in a dangerous area for Argentina. Di Maria’s delivery is over everyone though as the referee blows for a foul.
14′ – Nigeria 0-1 Argentina
GOAL! Lionel Messi opens his account in Russia. Ever Banega plays a ball over the top to find Messi, who takes two touches before planting the ball in the far corner. Finally! It’s been 22 shots on goal since he last scored at a World Cup!
14′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Javier Mascherano twice gives the ball away in quick succession. Fortunately for Argentina, neither Iheanacho, nor Musa can capitalize. Nigeria are poised to explode if given the chance.
13′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
We’ve got a stoppage in play after Bjarnason caught an elbow. Meanwhile…
11′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Messi bursts into the Nigeria box, but sees his square ball cut out. Unselfish play from the Argentinian captain.
10′ – Iceland 0-0 Croatia
Iceland talked about demonstrating patience in chasing the game against Croatia. We’ve only seen them threaten once so far. Unfortunately Gylfi Sigurdsson couldn’t pick out a teammate after breaking into the box.
9′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Ahmed Musa is full of confidence after his goalscoring exploits against Iceland, but will need to do better as he slices well wide from 25 yards with a snapshot on the stretch.
7′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Messi dances his way off the flank, skips past a few challeges and is brought down by John Obi Mikel. Free-kick is worked short and results in Tagliafico sending a shot off target.
6′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Gonzalo Higuain has replaced Sergio Agüero in the Argentina starting line-up. Can he seize upon the opportunity to impress? Nigeria’s back three are sitting very deep right now.
5′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Di Maria has the pace to keep Ever Banega’s overhit pass in play, but sees the offside flag raised on the far side.
3′ – Nigeria 0-0 Argentina
Lionel Messi’s first involvement in the game sees him concede possession. Argentina are snapping at the heels the Nigerian players though. They have started with great intent.
KICK OFF! It’s win or bust in Group D. Can Argentina or Iceland pull off a great escape?
19:55 – Iceland need a helping hand
Iceland find themselves int he same boat as Argentina knowing only a win will give them a shot at the knockout stages. They’ll be hoping Croatia take their eye off the ball after all but guaranteeing themselves top spot in Group D with the 3-0 win against Messi and Co.
19:50 – Messi to make his mark?
Lionel Messi looked like he had the wieght of the world on his shoulders, and played like it too, when Argentina were demolished by Croatia. Can the Barcelona star set himself free tonight when his national team need him most? Finalists four years ago, Argentina have to win to stand a chance of reaching the Round of 16.
19:45 – Hello one and all!
Welcome to live coverage of Nigera vs Argentina and Iceland vs. Croatia. Group D has the potential to end with some real fireworks and perhaps an upset or two. Here’s how they line up…