Africa: Nigeria Loses But Still Makes it to Second Round

Photo: BackpagePix
Ahmed Musa, left, seen contesting Argentina's Pablo Zabaleta for the ball, was Nigeria's hero of the match, scoring both the side's goals.

Nigeria lost a five-goal thriller to Argentina in Porto Alegre on Wednesday but still advance to the second round of the World Cup.

The Super Eagles were gifted a place in the next round after Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Iran 3-1 in the other match in the pool to ensure the west African side finished second in the group, setting up a potential Last 16 clash with in-form France.

The 3-2 defeat to Argentina was great entertainment, but both coaches will be worried by some comical defending at times that will need to be fixed before their teams enter the knockout stages.

Lionel Messi bagged a fine brace for the South American side and Marcos Rojo got the third, while Ahmed Musa scored both goals for Nigeria.

The African side had kept cleansheets in their opening two matches of the tournament, but it took Argentina just three minutes to breach them here.

Fernando Gago found Angel Di Maria with an excellent pass and his shot hit the post, but Messi was on hand to turn it home.

The Argentine fans were still celebrating that goal when Nigeria found their equalizer a minute later, Musa cutting inside and curling a fantastic shot into the far corner of the net.

Argentina lost Sergio Aguero to injury just before the break, a potentially huge blow to their chances, but they still had magical Messi and he gave his side the lead just before halftime.

The Barcelona star swung in a free-kick that had the beating of Vincent Enyeama in the Nigeria goal, though in all honesty he might have done better to get to the ball.

The Super Eagles then caught Argentina napping early in the second half and Musa scored his second. He played a neat one-two with Emmanuel Emenike and put the return ball into the corner of the net.

But that parity did not last long as Argentina hit the front again.

From a corner Ezequiel Garay got a touch the ball and it was eventually bundled home off the knee of Rojo as the Nigeria defence stood static.

Both sides had their chances from there and Enyeama in particular made some stunning saves to keep the Nigerians in the game.

But Argentina held out for the win, their third of the pool phase, while Nigeria can be pleased with their attacking as they continue to improve in that department after looking sluggish and blunt in their opener against Iran.

Nigeria will play their second round clash in Brazilia on Monday but will have to wait until Thursday to find out their opponent.

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