Argentina’s Lionel Messi was in full flow as he attempted to drag his side into the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
On a day when anything other than a victory in St Petersburg was simply not an option, the mercurial Messi lit up Group D with a stunning opening goal.
Having run in behind the Nigerian defence, he controlled Ever Banega’s ball over the top on his left thigh, took it away from defender Kenneth Omeruo with a deft touch of his left boot and then thumped it past keeper Francis Uzoho with his right to give his side a 14th-minute lead.
However, a troubled Argentina, who had drawn with Iceland and been humbled 3-0 by eventual finalists Croatia in their opening two group games, needed a late intervention from defender Marcos Rojo to secure their place in the last 16 after Victor Moses had levelled with a second half-penalty.
They were just four minutes away from a first round exit when Rojo’s fine volley spared their blushes and broke Nigerian hearts as a 2-1 win proved enough to see them through.
The respite proved to be only temporary when their exit was sealed by a 4-3 defeat by France, who would go on to lift the trophy, in a thriller in Kazan four days later.