Marcos Rojo emerged as the shock saviour as his stunning late volley sent Argentina through to World Cup 2018’s round of 16 at Nigeria’s expense thanks to a 2-1 win.
La Albiceleste’s tortured spell in Russia saw them come into the Group D-showdown at Saint Petersburg Stadium needing victory to stand any hope of avoiding just a second ever group-stage elimination. Lionel Messi’s stupendous control of Ever Banega’s superb chipped pass and expert finish into the top corner in the 14th minute appeared to offer salvation.
But the Super Eagles started the stronger in the second half and drew level on 51 minutes when Victor Moses calmly stroked home a penalty after Javier Mascherano’s pull on Leon Balogun.
Wilfred Ndidi blazed a shot over the bar in the 71st minute as Nigeria looked to put an end to all doubt.
Nigeria had another chance to put it to bed in the 75th minute when Marcos Rojo headed a ball off his arm, but the referee said there was no intent.
Gonzalo Higuain should’ve had it 2-1 in the 81st, but missed horribly with a cutback pass into the 18.
Argentina toiled from this moment and didn’t register another attempt on goal until the 80th minute. Then the unlikely figure of centre-back Rojo stormed onto Gabriel Mercado’s cross and found the bottom corner in the 86th minute to spark scenes of unmitigated joy.