PORTO ALEGRE – Nigeria couldn’t contain Lionel Messi. Luckily for the Super Eagles, they didn’t need to stop him in order to advance at the 2014 World Cup.
With Messi scoring two first-half goals, Argentina topped Nigeria 3-2 at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre on Wednesday. The win sealed the top spot in Group F for Argentina and Nigeria also advanced as the runner-up in the group.
After waiting until second-half stoppage time before lifting Argentina past Iran in its previous group-stage outing, Messi didn’t waste any time against Nigeria. In the third minute, he pounced on a rebound in the Nigeria penalty area and scored his third goal in as many games.
Nigeria responded quickly with a well-taken goal from Ahmed Musa in the fourth minute. But Messi reinstated the Argentina advantage shortly before halftime with a superb free kick goal.
Both teams would add another goal in the second half but the stakes were lowered as Bosnia-Herzegovina had taken a lead over Iran in the other Group F finale being played simultaneously. A loss for Iran would mean that Argentina and Nigeria qualified for the Round of 16 regardless of the outcome in Porto Alegre.