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WORLD CUP: Messi brace helps Argentine defeat Nigeria

World Cup Group F Nigeria 2-3 Argentina Messi 3, 45, Rofo 50 Musa 4, 47 Argentina secured top spot in group F with a 3-2 win over Nigeria who acquitted themselves well and will join the South Americans in the last 16 as runner up.

Quick fire goals at the beginning of both halves almost shared the points between these two team's and whilst Messi scored a brace it was a scruffy deflection from a corner by a defender that settled the game in the favour of one of the tournaments favourites.

Twice the Super Eagles came from behind but will be disappointed that they conceded twice from set pieces, and this from a side that had yet to allow the opposition to score in this World Cup.

Not that Argentina fared much better in defence for whilst they dominated for long periods the African's, despite defending deep, created chances when breaking at pace.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring after just a couple of minutes after Di Maria had hit the post but within 90 seconds the Super Eagles had levelled. Ahmed Musa was allowed to cut inside a curl a shot across keeper Romero and into goal.

Di Maria kept testing the Nigerian keeper Enyeama who had an impressive game, but just as it seemed the game would reach the interval all square Messi took centre stage.

The Barcelona star had already seen one free kick well saved, but when presented with a second opportunity on the stroke of half-time he curled home brilliant goal number two past a static Enyeama.

Yet within two minutes of the restart Nigeria restored parity as the Argentinean defence simply parted allowing Musa to stride forward and finish clinically.

This state of affairs did not last long with the winner coming from a corner which bounced into goal off the knee of defender Rofo.

Shortly afterwards Messi was substituted and the momentum went out of the game with both teams realising that results elsewhere meaning qualification had been secured.

Chances came and at either end but no additions to the score were made and whilst both are worthy of their place in the last 16, there are concerns to be addressed, Nigeria need to concentrate of defending set pieces and Argentine need to tighten up at the back.

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Ian Ferris
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Ian Ferris

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