From the brink of a humiliating World Cup exit, to a sensational late win. Argentina lives on at Russia 2018.Drawing 1-1 with Nigeria with merely minutes remaining, the Argentines were heading out of the tournament and the Super Eagles were set to progress to the last 16.
But an incredible 86th-minute winner from defender Marcos Rojo earned Argentina a 2-1 victory which put Lionel Messi and co through to the knockout stages at the expense of their opponents and set up a last-16 encounter with France.
It was another thrilling finale at a World Cup which has provided much drama.
Yet it seemed as if the Barcelona star would feature no more in this competition when a Victor Moses penalty leveled for the Super Eagles.Nigeria only needed a draw to reach the last 16 and Javier Mascherano looked to have assisted the Nigerians in their quest as it was his foul on Leon Balogun that led to Moses’ 51st-minute spot kick.
But in the dying minutes Rojo arrowed a first-time shot into the bottom corner for the final twist in an enthralling match.It was an exquisite finish from a Gabriel Mercado cross and the most important of the Manchester United’s three goals for his country. Messi jumped on Rojo’s shoulders as Argentina wildly celebrated a late reprieve.
Argentina’s fans in the St. Petersburg Stadium celebrated equally ecstatically, notably football legend Diego Maradona who directed a middle-finger salute — with both hands — at hecklers below where he was sitting.The 1986 World Cup winner had been watching from inside an executive box in the stands, where he could be seen throughout the match, gesturing and shouting as his countrymen searched for a winning goal.
Following the final whistle, Maradona, 57, was reportedly treated by medical staff in a nearby room, with videos posted on social media showing the ex-Argentina star being helped from the stands.According to Argentinian newspaper La Nacion, Maradona was treated for low blood pressure and left shortly afterwards.