FIFA World Cup 2018: Nigeria hand Argentina lifeline in bid to make knockouts

Nigeria handed the Lionel Messi-led Argentina national football team a lifeline when they beat Iceland 2-0 on Friday, ensuring the final FIFA World Cup 2018 games in Group D are high-stakes affairs.

football Updated: Jun 22, 2018 23:35 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,Nigeria,Argentina national football team
Argentina's forward Lionel Messi reacts during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group D football match between Argentina and Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, 2018. (AFP)

Argentina seemed down and out after their 3-0 loss to Croatia on Thursday, with an exit from the FIFA World Cup 2018 looming large on the horizon.

And while the Lionel Messi-led side still might be forced to leave Russia at the end of the group stages, Nigeria handed them a lifeline when they beat Iceland 2-0 on Friday.

A brace from forward Ahmed Musa was enough to hand the underdog nation their first loss of the tournament and makes the last round of games in Group D crucial for all sides.

READ | Ahmed Musa brace against Iceland boosts Nigeria and Argentina

Iceland could have reduced the deficit when they were awarded a penalty but Gylfi Sigurdsson skied the shot over the bar in a decision that might just come back to haunt the Nordic side should qualification from the group come down to goal difference.  

However, goal difference matters little to Argentina at this point since they need a positive result against Nigeria no matter what.

Jorge Sampaoli’s men must win their last game against Nigeria while hoping that Iceland either draw or lose against Croatia. That way, they leapfrog Nigeria to second place with four points.

A win for Iceland, however, would mean the second spot in Group D comes down to goal difference which is where things get interesting.

READ | FIFA World Cup 2018: VAR controversy mars Brazil’s win over Costa Rica

Should Iceland somehow beat Croatia, Argentina would need to register a heavy win over Nigeria as their current goal difference (-3) is inferior to that of Iceland (-2).

Both of the final Group D matches take place on June 26.

First Published: Jun 22, 2018 23:28 IST