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argentina-vs-nigeria A match which didn’t disappoint the neutrals saw five brilliant goals scored and records created. The Super Eagles kept the line-up that won against the Bosnia Herzegovinians with Joseph Yobo making his 100th cap for the Super Eagles. Argentina’s defence was worrying at times, but when you have Messi it’s not a problem. Argentina’s travelling hordes almost made Porto Alegre a home game yesterday and the man they came to see gloriously owned the first 45 minutes. In South Africa four years ago the two sides met at the group stage and although the Super Eagles’ keeper Vincent Enyeama kept Messi out that day with a series of great saves in a narrow 1-0 Argentina win, this time he wasn’t so lucky. With less than three minutes gone, Boca Juniors midfielder Fernando Gago threaded a pass to Angel Di Maria who burst forward and let fly with a vicious low drive which rammed against the post. The ball bounced back on to keeper Enyeama, on to the post again and spun out for Messi to blast home. Messi’s joy was initially short lived as seconds later the Super Eagles hit back with a devastating reply equal to the quality of Argentina’s opener. Messi curled in a fantastic free-kick and injury-jinxed Sergio Aguero who limped off after 37 minutes, stumbled over the ball in midfield while Nigeria midfielder Michael Babatunde sped at Argentina’s back four. Musa took the pass and stepped inside Manchester City star Pablo Zabaleta before curling a beauty inside the far post. It was a breathtaking start and it made World Cup history with two teams scoring in the opening five minutes for the first time ever at the finals. To their credit, Nigeria didn’t buckle when Argentina hit back and Enyeama did well to field a super low striker from Di Maria. With 43 minutes gone, the African keeper acrobatically clawed away a 25-yard Messi free kick. For Messi, it was merely a reccy mission for the real deal on the stroke of half time. Joseph Yobo fouled Messi 10 yards outside the box for a free kick in a more central position. This time he made no mistake with Enyeama not even diving as the ball curled high into the top corner. It was a flash of brilliance that electrified Argentina’s fans – but still Nigeria wouldn’t lie down. Just two minutes after the re-start Musa banged in a second equaliser from a cute pass by Emenike, steering his shot past Sergio Romero. Argentina’s eventual 50th minute winner didn’t have the quality of Messi’s double. Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo was just as ecstatic even though the ball bounced off his knee from Ezequiel Lavezzi’s 50th minute corner. Both sides could have added more with Lavezzi forcing a good save from Enyeama after a cute Di Maria free kick. Nigeria might have grabbed a third equaliser if not for a brilliant tackle by Zabaleta as Musa shaped to bag his hat trick. In the end it didn’t matter as Bosnia’s win over Iran meant Nigeria progresses.  

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This article was first published on 26th June 2014


Martins Okafor is a Sports Writer for Connect Nigeria. He has been a sport buff for years, following stories and development in leagues and international competitions. His interest led him to writing stories – reporting on sporting events. He has superior interest in soccer, but knows much about other sports. He plans to have a blog and to advance in sport journalism. You can email him at: obimartins85 [at]

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