The Super Eagles of Nigeria missed out narrowly on reaching the knockout stages after Marcos Rojo scored a late winner to send Argentina through.
The West African boys came into the match on the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Iceland after faltering 2-0 to Croatia in the opening match. Their win collapsed social media as Africa celebrated with the nation of over 180 million people. With this game, everything was on the line, the Super Eagles only needed a draw to secure qualification to the next round while the shaky Argentina side had to bag all three points with the hope that Iceland would fall to Croatia.
Fourteen minutes into the match, Lionel put the South American side ahead after controlling an overhead pass from Arsenal-linked Ever Banega and firing the ball into the net. It was really a vintage Messi moment and if you ask me, not much could have been done to stop it. An organized defense led by Brighton Hove Albion's Leon Balogun and a wonderful fingertip save by Uzoho from a Messi free-kick kept the scoreline at 1-0 on the 45-minute mark.
After the halftime period, the Super Eagles came out flying, meticulously hunting their prey. Etebo curled a corner into the box in the 51st minute which did not lead to a call but meant that Javier Mascherano had to put his arms over Balogun to avoid one, granting the Eagles a penalty. Victor Moses made no mistake from the spot, canceling Argentina's opener. At this stage, Nigeria could actually have been two or three goals up after some neat interplay that saw Wilfried Ndidi's long-range shot narrowly missing the target. Odion Ighalo also missed an open chance before a penalty appeal was rejected after a VAR review when Marcos Rojo seemed to have handed the ball to stop Musa's cross from reaching the lurking Ighalo. The 86th minute was to become the heartbreaking moment.
Gabriel Mercado swung a cross into the box that met the Marcos Rojo who fired it into the bottom corner becoming the unlikely hero of the night. Argentina's qualification was further aided with Croatia's 2-1 win over Iceland.
In the end, the result was disappointing and some decisions might have gone against the Super Eagles but the overall performance by the Nigerians was nothing less than a fight to the death. Now, four of five African teams have been knocked out from the tournament. Africa's last hope lies with Senegal, who plays Colombia on the 28th of June.