Porto Alegre, Brazil (4E Sports) – Superstar striker Lionel Messi scored twice in the opening half as Argentina advanced to the World Cup’s last 16 via a 3-2 triumph over Nigeria in their Wednesday’s Group F clash Wednesday at Estadio Beira-Rio.
Messi now has amassed four goals in this year’s tournament to climb level with Brazil’s Neymar for the lead in the race for the Golden Boot.
With the win, Argentina will either face Switzerland or Ecuador in the knockout phase, depending on the result of Group E matches later Wednesday.
Despite the loss, Nigeria still progressed to the last 16, thanks to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 3-1 triumph over Iran.
Messi was at his brilliant best, following up a stunning half-volley in the third minute with a superb free kick in first-half stoppage time.
However, Messi’s efforts were twice cancelled out by the equally impressive Ahmed Musa in the 4th and 47th minute as Nigeria put in a spirited display.
The Nigerians eventually succumbed as Marcos Rojo’s unorthodox finish five minutes after halftime ensured Argentina went through with a maximum haul of nine points. Rojo became just the second Argentine player to score a goal at the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Bosnia-Herzegovina knocked Iran out of the World Cup and salvaged some pride with a 3-1 win at Arena Fonte Nova.
Bosnia failed to qualify after losing a pair of one-goal games but will go home with its first World Cup win after Miralem Pjanic scored a goal and assisted on another.
Edin Dzeko and Avdija Vrsajevic also found the net to give the Bosnians their first points of the tournament.
Dzeko nearly scored inside of four minutes when he fired a shot on goal from eight yards that goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi did well to tip over the crossbar.
Dzeko finally hit the mark in the 23rd minute when he dribbled to the top of the penalty area and drove a low shot off the right post and into the net. Bosnia doubled its lead in the 59th minute behind Pjanic’s goal.
Reza Ghoochannejhad gave his team a bit of a lift when he turned home a cross from Javad Nekounam eight minutes from time for Iran’s only goal of the tournament.
Bosnia retaliated one minute later through Vrsajevic, who drove a low shot inside the far post from a tight angle to seal the win.