WORLD CUP ROUNDUP: Argentina, Nigeria advance from group
Argentina beat Nigeria, 3-2, in the last World Cup Group F match on Wednesday, with Lionel Messi and Ahmed Musa scoring two goals each before Marcos Rojo kneed in the winner.
Argentina topped the group and Nigeria also advanced despite the loss, becoming the first African team in the Round of 16 in Brazil.
Messi had his best match of the World Cup so far, scoring twice in the first half to boost his tournament total to four goals, and repeatedly cutting up Nigeria’s defense with dazzling runs and clever passes.
“We played against a team that wanted to play,” Messi said. “I think we saw a good Argentina. We need to continue on this path.”
The Argentina captain needed less than three minutes to finish Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s clean sheet in Brazil, slamming in the rebound after Angel Di Maria’s shot bounced off the post. Nigeria replied within a minute as Musa cut in from the left and beat Sergio Romero with a curling shot toward the far post.
Nearing halftime Messi tested Enyeama with a 25-meter free kick that the goalkeeper struggled to push to a corner. Having found his aim, Messi was ice cold when Nigeria gave up another free kick just moments later from a slightly shorter distance.
The second half started at the same furious pace as the first, with two goals within the first five minutes. First Musa took advantage of confusion in the Argentine defense to score his second. Then Rojo made it 3-2 as he got his right knee on a corner kick three minutes later.
SWITZERLAND 3, HONDURAS 0: Xherdan Shaqiri scored all three goals to put Switzerland into the second round of the World Cup with a lopsided victory over Honduras.
The Swiss will next face Lionel Messi and Argentina on Tuesday in Sao Paulo.
Shaqiri scored his first goal in the sixth minute, dribbling into a crowd of defenders and curling a shot into the net off the underside of the crossbar. In the 31st, he collected a pass from Josip Drmic after a defensive error and easily beat Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Shaqiri completed his hat trick in the 71st. Drmic did well to beat Honduras defender Victor Bernardez on the left and pass to a charging Shaqiri, who one-timed his shot past a diving Valladares.
FRANCE 0, ECUADOR 0: France topped Group E despite being held to a scoreless draw by 10-man Ecuador.
Ecuador was reduced to 10 men after Antonio Valencia was shown a straight red card in the 50th minute for digging his studs into the leg of French defender Lucas Digne.
But Ecuador may feel upset that France center half Mamadou Sakho was not shown a red card in the eighth minute when he appeared to elbow Oswaldo Minda in the face during a France corner. Then, in a late incident off the ball, France forward Olivier Giroud jabbed his elbow into Gabriel Achilier, who was standing behind him.
France coach Didier Deschamps made six changes to his starting lineup, knowing his side was all but assured of advancing.
France came closest to scoring when Antoine Griezmann hit the post in the 47th and then missed a string of late chances as its much-vaunted attacked failed to live up to the hype generated by last Friday’s 5-2 win against Switzerland.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 3, IRAN 1: Bosnia-Herzegovina ended Iran’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stages from Group F, and registered its first World Cup win in the process.
The Bosnians, who were already out of contention, took a commanding 2-0 lead with goals from Edin Dzeko in the 23rd and Miralem Pjanic in the 53rd before Iran hit back in a desperate late bid to qualify for the second round.
Reza Ghoochannejhad gave some hope to the Iranians with a tap-in goal in the 81st, but Avdija Vrsaljevic replied immediately with his low shot from the edge of the area to restore the two-goal lead.
Iran needed a win to have any chance of advancing.