The tears of joy, the dripping blood, Tuesday’s action packed game between Argentina and Nigeria saw it all.
The palpable pressure was seen in the faces of the Argentine team even before the match began. Argentina was now playing for honour, as the team had never been booted out of a World Cup in the first round itself from 1930s’.
It was a match of existence, where Team Argentina got 90+ marks in all quarters of the game. They played, they bled, they scored and above all they dominate.
The match score read 2-1, but it was much more than that. According to experts it was a come-back match of Lionel Messi, who after a long time scored a poetic goal in the first half (14 minutes) of the game. For fans Messi was back from oblivion.
The team stumbled through qualifying and appeared lost in its first two outings in Russia, a disappointing draw against tiny Iceland and a thorough drubbing from Croatia.
However, on Tuesday night, everything worked. From defence to midfield attack, each player of Argentina ran like a super engine. Their golden moment came twice in the match one at 14 minutes, when Messi scored and again at 86 minutes, when defender Marcos Rojo got through the defence of Nigeria and scored a beauty.
Playing in front of passionate and vocal supporters Argentina began the game aggressively and managed to score quickly.
However, Nigeria recovered and scored the equaliser and when it began to look like Argentina were on their way back, in an exemplar show of skill Rojo found the Nigerian net.
Soon after the crowd were on their feet and Messi was on the shoulder of Rojo and did a victory ride.
Maradona’s excitement, the father-daughter emotions’ from the VIP gallery and Di’Maria’s tears said it all, ‘Argentina has not sunk’.
However, Argentina did give Nigeria their chance to win. Three minutes into the second half, Masscherano Argentina’s veteran defender, who has looked every bit of his 34 years, took down Leon Balogun with a rugby tackle in the penalty area on a corner kick. A minute late Victor Moses of Nigeria did no mistake, and slid his penalty kick past Franco Armani, Argentine goal keeper. Nigeria needed only a draw to get through to the Round of 16.
Now Argentina will take on France, in Round of 16.
Speaking of that match Messi said, “I know who they are and I know what we have to do. It is going to be very tough game.”