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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Argentina continue to Messi-merize; Bosnia end with a win

PHOTOS: Argentina continue to Messi-merize; Bosnia end with a win

June 25, 2014 23:41 IST

PHOTOS: Argentina continue to Messi-merize; Bosnia end with a win

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Lionel Messi played a starring role as Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in Porto Alegre to end as Group F winners, with wins in all three of their matches. 

Despite the result, both the teams qualified to the round of 16 from the group, Nigeria benefiting from the fact that Bosnia thumped Iran in the evening's other game in Salvador.

The Argentine captain struck twice to take his tally to four goals in three matches. Considering he had scored just one in his first eight, it is safe to say that Messi has come a long way.

Porto Alegre is just 631 km off the Argentina border. So it was no surprise that albieceleste supporters packed the stands at the Estadio Beira-Rio. And it was not long before the celebrations began.

The Barcelona front-man lashed in a rebound to give his side the lead after three minutes.

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Image: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring against Nigeria in Porto Alegre
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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Musa twice equalized for Nigeria

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Nigeria equalised 80 seconds later thanks to a superb finish by Ahmed Musa.

It was the first time in World Cup history that both the sides had scored inside the first five minutes of the match.

The CSKA Moscow forward was impressive throughout the match, also scoring Nigeria's second equalizer. He missed out on a hat-trick by a whisker. 

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Image: Ahmed Musa of Nigeria celebrates scoring his team's first goal
Photographs: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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Messi now has 10 goals in his last eight internationals

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Argentina retook the lead in first half stoppage-time when Messi curled a brilliant 20-metre free kick into the corner of the net.

It was his 10th goal in his last eight international appearances and his 24th in his last 23 internationals.

The Argentine captain was withdrawn in the 63rd minute and replaced by Inter Milan's Ricardo Alvarez, in what was a very pragmatic move by coach Alejandro Sabella.

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Image: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's second goal and his second of the game with Ezequiel Lavezzi (left) and Angel di Maria (right)
Photographs: Ian Walton/Getty Images

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Marcos Rojo scored the winner

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Though Musa equalised soon after restart (in the 47th minute), Nigeria's joy lasted for only three minutes as Marcos Rojo scored what proved to be the winner. 

It was the first international goal for the 22-year-old Sporting Lisbon defender. 

And it ensured Argentina matched their achievement in South Africa four years earlier when they won all three group games, also beating Nigeria (1-0) en route.

The two-time champions have now lost just one of their last 15 World Cup matches, winning 12 of them, and have further bolstered their status as one of the tournament favorites.

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Image: Marcos Rojo of Argentina (center) celebrates scoring his team's third goal with Ezequiel Garay (left) and Ezequiel Lavezzi
Photographs: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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Dzeko fired Bosnia into a 1-0 halftime lead

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Meanwhile, in the group's other match, debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina thumped Iran 3-1 in Salvador to help Nigeria's cause.

Edin Dzeko fired already-eliminated Bosnia into a 1-0 halftime lead against an Iran side needing a victory to have any chance of grabbing a surprise last 16 place.

The Bosnia striker was allowed time to pick his spot, drilling a left-footed strike into the bottom corner from 25 metres midway through the half.

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Image: Edin Dzeko of Bosnia and Herzegovina shoots and scores his team's first goal
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Pjanic and Vrsajevic were also on target for Bosnia

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Bosnia doubled their lead just before the hour through Miralem Pjanic's cool finish in the box.

Iran, yet to score in the tournament coming into the match, finally got into the score sheet when Reza Ghoochannejhad pulled a goal back. for Iran in the 82nd minute.

However, Avdija Vrsajevic restored Bosnia's two-goal cushion with a fine strike a minute later.

Already eliminated after two losses, Bosnia, appearing at a major tournament for the first time as an independent nation, recorded their first World Cup win.

 


Image: Avdija Vrsajevic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (center) celebrates with his teammates scoring his team's third goal
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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