By Femi Solaja
The story of Super Eagles of Nigeria at the Russia 2018 World Cup tournament came to an end on Tuesday night after a 1-2 loss to perennial foe, Argentina, at the St. Petersburg.
It was the fifth consecutive time Nigeria will lose to the former World Champion but the match on Tuesday night was full of drama just as the Visual Assistant Referee (VAR) was put to test again on several occasions and the outcome was a piece for both sides. Nigeria won a vital penalty kick while Argentina also survived another spot kick after the referee reviewed Rojo’s alleged foul in the vital area.
The win was a revival for Argentina but more importantly, restoration of magical Messi’s brilliant play again following his brilliant opening goal for his side in the 14th minute.
The FC Barcelona forward converted from a brilliant cross from Ever Banega to beat Kenneth Omeruo and later goalie Francis Uzoho for his first goal of the tournament.
The South American side looks good to double the lead before the half time but failed to utilise their control of the match.
There was a turning point in the 51st minute after a VAR review adjudged Mascherano to have handled Leon Balogun in the vital area off a corner kick. The resultant penalty was converted by Victor Moses.
Odion Ighalo failed on two occasions to score for Nigeria from fast breaks but fumbled until Marcos Rojo scored the winning goal in the 86th minute from pull out off Gabriel Mercado.
The result returned Nigeria to third position with three points and Argentina finished runner up and will meet France next week in the second round knockout stage while group winner, Croatia will welcome Denmark.