AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 13: Messi And Argentina Find A Way Through
Argentina were the big winners in Day 13 action of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Albiceleste rode to victory over Nigeria on the back of two superb goals from Lionel Messi and Marcos Rojo. The win sent Argentina to the Round of 16 and left Nigeria on the outside looking in. Elsewhere, Iceland lost the opportunity to go through as they fell 2-1 to Croatia. In Group C, France and Denmark both went through after their 0-0 draw and Peru picked up a victory with a 2-0 result over Australia, the Socceroos losing the match they needed to win in order to advance.
Denmark v France 0-0
In easily the worst match of the tournament, Denmark and France played out a 0-0 draw in Moscow. The incessant boos toward the end of the match and after the final whistle told one anything they needed to know about this drab affair.
The result sent France through as the Group C winner and Denmark into the Round of 16 as Group C runner-up.
Match Rating - 2: This has to go right up there with some classic World Cup snore-fests. One of the most boring football matches seen at this level in a while.
Peru v Australia 2-0
Peru won their first World Cup match since 1978 as they eliminated Australia from the tournament. Australia still had a chance to advance if they could have won their fixture. However, Peru were simply too good and have proven themselves to be a bright spot in this tournament.
Andre Carillo (18’) and Jose Paolo Guerrero (50’) scored for the Peruvians who exit the competition with pride.
Match Rating - 6: Many tuned in to watch France versus Denmark. They would have done better to watch this entertaining draw.
Argentina v Nigeria 2-1
Argentina topped Nigeria 2-1 in a dramatic night in Saint Petersburg to clinch a place in the knockout rounds. In one of the most tension-filled matches of the competition, Argentina picked up the victory they needed to avoid elimination.
Argentina were much-improved from their previous two performances and came out with a vengeance in an energetic first-half display. With 14 minutes on the board Lionel Messi showed his intent to leave a mark on this World Cup. He did so with a piece of wonderful brilliance. Ever Banega’s fantastic ball found Messi on the run and his first-touch was exquisite, using a further touch to push the ball ahead before he finished past Francis Uzoho to make it 1-0.
It was almost 2-0 later in the half, but this time Uzoho came up big. Messi fired in a free-kick that the Nigerian goalkeeper just barely tipped on to the post.
Nigeria made some tactical switches and were improved in the second half. They tied the match six minutes after the break through a Victor Moses penalty (Javier Mascherano had been called for a foul in the box).
As the game’s latter stages came, both sides missed glorious chances and time appeared to be running out. Four minutes from the end however, the breakthrough came for Jorge Sampaoli’s team. Gabriel Mercado sent in a fine deliver from the right that was met by Marcos Rojo in the heart of the area with a full volley past Uzoho. Cue massive celebrations from Argentina and their supporters.
Match Rating - 7: More scrappy than high quality toward the end. This was yet another final group match that brought high amounts of tension and drama.
Iceland v Croatia 1-2
Iceland’s World Cup run ended with a 2-1 defeat to Croatia in Rostov. Croatia made several changes to their starting eleven. The replacements did well in bringing a 0-0 score into halftime.
At the start of the second half, Milan Badelj gave the Croatians the lead on 53 minutes seemingly ending Icelandic hopes of a place in the next round.A Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty breathed fresh life into the match. However, Ivan Perisic scored in injury-time to make it 2-1 and send Iceland home.
Match Rating - 6: You had to feel for brave Iceland. However, Croatia were probably the better side on the night.
Dimitris Petratos remained on the bench as he watched his Australia team go down 2-0 to Peru.
Alfred Finnbogason played the full 90 minutes in Iceland’s defeat to Croatia. His teammate, former AEK player, Arnor Ingvi Traustason came on as an injury-time substitute.
GOAL OF THE DAY
It has to go to Messi’s wonderful goal. Carillo’s was good, but Messi’s goal was just pure magic. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Denmark and France in bore draw
Peru win first World Cup match since 1978
Argentina survive scare and advance
Messi inspires Argentina
Iceland hopes dashed by Croatia
Argentina and France play on Saturday in the Round of 16
Croatia is set to face Denmark on Sunday
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
Day 14 promises excitement across the board as the top two spots in Groups E and F will be decided. Serbia and Brazil play essentially a final in Moscow with the Serbians needing a victory to ensure progress, while Brazil could go through with a point. In the other match, Switzerland will book passage to the Round of 16 with a victory against Costa Rica.
Germany’s last-ditch escape against Sweden last Saturday means they could progress with a win over South Korea in Group F. At the same time, Mexico and Sweden play in another crucial match. Should Sweden prevail and Germany win their match there could the situation of three points on six points in this group