Nigeria became the third African country to exit the 2014 Fifa World Cup Tuesday night but they did so with their heads held high after a gruelling 2-1 loss to Argentina.
Manchester United defender Marcus Rojo scored late in the game with just about four minutes of regulation time left to break Nigerian hearts and send a listless Argentina into the next round.
The star studded South American side had picked up only one point in their first two games and needed to win at all costs to even have a chance at qualification. Nigeria, on the other hand, knew they could go through with simply a draw.
Argentina came in fired up on all cylinders and didn’t take long to take the lead.
Lionel Messi latched onto an incisive through ball from Ever Banega and took a couple of touches before lashing it past goalkeeper Uzoho.
Maradona, celebrating the goal in the stands, and Messi both showed indescribable relief at the goal.
However, despite bossing the rest of the half Argentina failed to extend their lead and danger balls started ringing as Nigeria took over the game in the second half.
Things went from bad to worse for Argentina when Mascherano conceded a penalty in the 51st minute and Victor Moses stepped up and converted it with aplomb.
Nigeria were well on their way to qualification when Rojo raced onto a cross in the penalty area and smashed it home with three minutes left on the clock.
Argentina go through to face France in the second round whilst Croatia, who beat Iceland 2-1 in the other game, face Denmark after qualifying as group leaders.