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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

FIFA World Cup 2018: How Lionel Messi’s words inspired Argentina to victory over Nigeria

Lionel Messi gave a pep-up talk to his teammates that inspired the South American nation to register a win in their last game against Nigeria and qualify for the Round of 16 in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 on Tuesday.

football Updated: Jun 27, 2018 18:20 IST
Ankit Kumar Singh
Ankit Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Lionel Messi in action during Argentina’s FIFA World Cup 2018 encounter against Nigeria on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi in action during Argentina’s FIFA World Cup 2018 encounter against Nigeria on Tuesday.(AP)

Defender Marcos Rojo, who scored a late winner to help Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 and secure a Round of 16 berth in the ongoing FIFA World Cup, has revealed how captain Lionel Messi’s words just before the second half inspired the team to produce a match-winning performance.

Though Argentina went into the half-time break with a lead of 1-0 courtesy a spectacular goal from Messi in the 14th minute, there was some nervousness among the players knowing that any slip-up would result in curtains for their World Cup dreams.

It was here that Messi stepped in and gave a pep-up talk to his players during the break that kept them motivated for the remainder of the game and resulted in a victory.

Rojo, who scored in the 86th minute to seal the win after Nigeria had managed to equalise with a penalty in the 51st minute, said, “During half-time, Messi said that all of us have the duty to score so whenever we get the chance, we shoot, no matter our position.”

Speaking about his winner, he had this to say, “So when I saw that ball coming towards me, I kicked it in with all that I had in me and [laughs] it went in!”

READ | Relieved Lionel Messi grateful at surviving Nigeria ordeal

Messi had earlier drawn a lot of flak for missing a penalty against Iceland in Argentina’s opening match in the World Cup. The match had ended in a 1-1 draw.

Argentina then suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss to Croatia and coming into their final match against Nigeria, they found themselves in a must-win situation. A defeat here would have resulted in their elimination.

The South American giants, though, managed to win the match and would now meet France for a place in quarterfinals on Saturday.

First Published: Jun 27, 2018 18:20 IST

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