Lionel Messi has proved a saviour to Argentine fans thus far. Could his 10 teammates step up to maintain their 100% record?
ARGENTINA FANS WERE hoping they would not be relying on Lionel Messi and Sergio Romero to get them out of jail again. The Group F leaders took on Nigeria while Bosnia-Herzegovina met Iran.
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Good afternoon (the evening, in my mind, starts at 5pm). We will get you started with the line-ups for today’s Group F action.
ARGENTINA: Romero; Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo; Mascherano, Gago, Di Maria; Messi, Aguero, Higuain.
NIGERIA: Enyeama; Omeruo, Yobo, Ambrose, Oshaniwa; Mikel, Onazi; Babatunde, Musa, Odemwingie; Emenike.
And in the battle of the lesser lights…
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Begovic; Vrsajevic, Spahic, Sunjic, Kolasinac; Susic, Besic, Hadzic; Ibisevic, Pjanic, Dzeko.
IRAN: Haghighi; Montazeri, Hosseini, Sadeghi, Pooladi; Hajsafi, Nekounam, Timotian; Shojaei, Dejagah; Ghoochannejhad.
Argentinean newspaper El Dia with the national team on the front page with the headline ‘Time to show more’.
Real Madrid attacker Angel di Maria believes his team are doing a “terrific” job so far. Don’t think I would go that far but Argentina are 100% and could yet hit form. Surely di Maria and Aguero will have their say soon enough. Higuain too.
Front page of Vanguard in Nigeria has Victor Moses on the front page and the headline declares ‘Go ahead Super Eagles. No shaking.’
Good question from the gang at Squawka…
Statistics time: Nigeria have had 19 shots on target in their two games with a return of just one goal. With 46 in two games, they are above the tournament average [32.8] for getting crosses in the box. It’s the 0.8 cross that kills you in the end. Argentina have attempted 54 crosses but only nine have found the intended target.
We will keep a secondary eye on the Bosnia-Herzegovina game on the RTE stream. The Bos-H boys don’t like to belt out anthems. Not their style.
KICK-OFF in both games…
1 min - Zabaleta tries to skit away up the right wing but he is closed down. We have Mascherano down in the Argentine box after Odemwinge left a boot in when competing for a ball.
3 mins – Iran have pretty weak penalty appeals chuckled away.
GOAL!! Argentina 1-0 Nigeria (Messi ’2)
Di Maria bashes the post but Messi is there to slam home the rebound from 10 yards out.
GOAL!!! Argentina 1-1 Nigeria (Musa ’3)
Thumping response from the Super Eagles. Nigeria break at pace from the kick-off and Ahmed Musa arcs in the equaliser. What a start!
Here is the opener from Messi.
And the response from Musa [the Nigerian Messi].
8 mins - Di Maria shoots from range. It swivels in the air so Enyeama chooses to punch clear. Higuain goes close moments later.
Over in the other game, Edin Dzeko has gone close with a blazing half-volley in the Iran box.
David Zdrilic sums up the globe’s thoughts in this tweet:
12 mins - Argentina, despite the 1-1 scoreline, are looking better than they have so far in the tournament. Fans on both sides in good voice.
14 mins - Gago with the time-honoured head-high pass that your teammates all hate. Still, Argentina retain possession and press forward.
17 mins - As it stands, both of these teams — Argentina and Nigeria — are finishing first and second. Not much doing in Bos-H versus Iran.
19 mins - Messi’s whipped free-kick gets a touch off Mikel but is comfortably saved.
A great picture of the Messi goal:
23 mins - Nigeria enjoying a spell of decent possession before a meaty Gago challenge puts paid to that.
GOAL: Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 Iran (Dzeko ’22)
No-one closes down the Man City striker and he tazers in a low strike from 25 yards out. Iran have an immediate chance to equalise but a powerful shot smashes off the crossbar.
26 mins - Odemwinge has a free shot outside the Argentine box but over and over, and over the bar it flies.
This is the Dzeko goal that has Bos-H on course for their first World Cup win.
30mins - All of 30 yards out but di Maria gets some swerve on his shot. Enyeama has to dive to his left to push it out for a corner. It is swung in and Rojo wants a penalty. No dice.
32 mins - Good block by Oshaniwa to prevent Aguero from scoring.
Football journalist Sid Lowe reports that Argentina fans are singing their own version of Bad Moon Rising. Classic Creedence tune. The Dude loves C.C.R. Not sure what The Dude would make of the World Cup.
35 mins - Nigeria with a free-kick in a dangerous position. They will whip it in… Hold up. Aguero is sitting on the deck. Hammer gone again? Looks that way.
What a shame, Aguero’s season has been riddled with injuries and strains, and pains. The free-kick causes troubles but comes to nothing.
39 mins - Two Argentina corners but they can’t force a meaningful save from Enyeama.
40 mins - Ezequiel Lavezzi is on for Aguero. He must hope his World Cup is not at an end but the pictures did not look promising. Mind willing; body failing.
42 mins - Rojo clatters into Onazi. He is fine to continue. Lavezzi is then sat upon by Mikel. Free in to Argentina.
43 mins - It was headinf top sock from Messi but Enyeama got two hands to it. Corner kick is short, eventually comes to Messi but cleared.
44 mins - Bos-H still lead Iran 1-0. Argentina get another free and it is closer to goal AND more central. Will we see the first great free of the 2014 World Cup?
GOAL! Argentina 2-1 Nigeria (Messi ’45)
Nice free. Terrible goalkeeping. Beaten all ends up.
Enyeama hoped his wall would do the job. It did not and he jogged over but never dived as it curled in and kissed the side-netting.
This is the Messi free-kick:
This is a video of Messi’s first goal. Good save initially from Eneyeama. He was having a good game until that second free-kick.
This is from our comments section (below). Prescient. “36 years ago today Argentina became World Champions for the 1st time – a third victory is looking very promising this year.”
From Eoin ‘The Bomber’ Liston. Discuss.
GOAL! Argentina 2-2 Nigeria (Musa ’46)
The Argentine defence opened up for him like a Kinder Egg wrapping in a hungry child’s hands. Shocking stuff but a fine finish from Ahmed Musa.
GREAT SAVE! Di Maria works a yard of space and unloads. Nice save from Enyeama. But…
GOAL! Argentina 3-2 Nigeria (Rojo ’49)
More pitiful defence. Corner floats into the six yard box. No-one clears and it goes in of Marcos Rojo’s knee.
Here is the Musa goal that had us level for 100 seconds.
54 mins - Messi slides Higuain through but Enyeama is quick off his line to save with his legs. Apart from that Messi free, the goalkeeper has acquitted himself well.
Still 1-0 to Bosnia-H in the other game.
MUSA v. MESSI. Who will get to his hat-trick first?
GOAL: Bosina-Herzegovina 2-0 Iran (Pjanic ’58)
That should be that for Iran. Smart finish from midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
60 mins - That second B-H goal means Nigeria should be sorted for the next round. The Super Eagles are going for broke now and force a corner.
61 mins - Mikel sand wedges a dolly straight to Romero from the angle of the six yard box.
62 mins - No treble for Leo. Messi is getting a standing ovation as he jogs off the pitch.
64 mins - Babatunde is coming off after fracturing his arm.
The Pjanic goal for B-H.
68 mins - Has the fight gone from Nigeria after that injury break? They are taking a while to get going but I feel they will fashion at least one more goalscoring chance. The defending on both sides has been poor. Surprising for two teams that had only conceded a combined one goal in four previous games.
71 mins - Ricky Alvarez replaced Messi. He is tracking back and tackling. Lavezzi has been lively since coming on but he cannot connect with Higuain in the centre of the Nigeria box.
English football commentator Jon Cotterill came out with this sharp tweet:
75 mins - Musa came close to his hat-trick but wide his shot flew. Odemwinge’s cross-cum-shot is snatched at the back post by Lavezzi.
77 mins - Nice, if a tad odd, free routine between Lavezzi and di Maria. A scoop pass falls nicely and Lavezzi gets a shot on target that wins a corner.
Musa then blocked down by Zabaleta in the box.
79 mins - Free header for Garay from 10 yards out but it flashes wide.
81 mins - Nigeria corner coming up. Weak cross somehow bobbles straight into the Argentine six yard box before Mascherano clears. Suspect.
GOAL: Bosnia Herzegovina 2-1 Iran (Ghoochannejhad ’82)
Reason to belief? Comeback could be on.
GOAL: Bosnia Herzegovina 3-1 Iran (Vrsajevic ’83)
Well, that didn’t last long. Hopes dashed again.
87 mins - Both teams running out of steam. Lavezzi went close a couple of minutes back. No sustained Nigerian pressure though. Ambrose then bursts through and his shot is deflected just wide by Garay.
88 mins - Di Maria breaks, runs the ball deep into the Nigerian half, earns a throw-in, collapses in a heap.
89 mins - Long-range shot on target for Mascherano.
Brilliant, impudent stuff from Lavezzi as he splashes his boss with water. Sabella takes it in his stride. Can’t imagine Roy Keane would.
Game over for Bosnia, who beat Iran 3-1. First W.C win.
90 +4 mins - Nigeria know they are through so the game is petering out.
That’s yer lot. Cheers for keeping me company. Messi vs. Musa with Rojo’s knee settling the tie. Very entertaining.