Argentina left it late but successfully secured their place in the last-16 of the 2018 World Cup and Lionel Messi was unsurprisingly both delighted and relieved.
After picking up just one point from their opening two games of the tournament against Iceland and Croatia, the Albiceleste had it all to do against Nigeria on Tuesday night.
Messi seemed to set them on their way with a brilliant early goal as he rose to the occasion, but a Victor Moses penalty in the second half piled the pressure back on Argentina as they desperately searched for a winner to avoid an early elimination.
It came from the most unlikely of players as Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo popped up in the Nigeria box and produced a stunning finish, sparking wild celebrations as it ultimately turned out to be enough to send Argentina through.
Messi spoke about what it meant after the game, and it could now potentially be a major turning point in their tournament.
“We were confident that we would win this game. It’s wonderful to have won it this way,” he is quoted as saying by Mundo Deportivo. “I knew that God is with us and he was not going to leave us out. It’s a well-deserved joy.
“I thank all the people who are here, for all their sacrifice, and all those in Argentina who were always with us. This shirt is above all.”
Argentina will now face France in the last-16 on Saturday, with Messi and Co. looking to improve significantly as they will have to if they harbour hopes of going all the way in Russia as they simply haven’t been good enough thus far.