Croatia and Argentina both advance to the last 16, with Croatia topping Group D, after Argentina edged Nigeria 2-1 in their FIFA World Cup preliminary round football (soccer) match at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday. Nigeria and Iceland are eliminated.
Messi scored an exquisite 14th-minute goal to give the two-time champions the lead Tuesday, but it wasn’t until Marcos Rojo’s 86th-minute strike that Argentina was assured of a place in the round of 16.
Victor Moses scored a penalty in the 51st minute for Nigeria after Javier Mascherano brought down Leon Balogun.
It took an unlikely goal by Rojo to save Argentina and give it second place in Group D. With just four minutes left Marcos Rojo volleyed home the winner from Gabriel Mercado’s cross to send Jorge Sampaoli’s team through. After striking the winner against Nigeria four years ago this is a repeat for Rojo. He inflicted Nigeria’s fifth World Cup defeat from five meetings with Argentina, all by a solitary goal.
The dream was so close and Nigeria showed amazing fighting spirit. After a difficult first half the team played a great second half and had two good chances to take the lead. The young players can be proud of themselves.
Argentina finish as runners-up to play France on Saturday in Kazan, a day before Croatia take on Denmark. Nigeria end third, on three points, ahead of Iceland, on one.
Iceland is also eliminated despite spirited display in loss to Croatia in Rostov. Croatia emerged from their third match at Russia 2018 with their 100% record intact, as two second half goals canceled out an Icelandic penalty sends them into the knockout stages as Group D winners.
Zlatko Dalic’s side enhanced their status as one of the form teams in the World Cup, as goals from Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic proved enough to dispatch a dangerous Iceland side.
A 76th minute penalty from Gylfi Sigurdsson, cooly dispatched into the roof of the net as if a riposte to the crucial spot kick miss against Nigeria last Friday, looked to have secured a point for Iceland before Perisic’s late strike sucked any remaining wind from the Icelandic sails.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.