Argentina, the group favorites, came and conquered, winning all three of their matches to earn maximum points. After edging Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 in their opening match, they were held to a stalemate with Iran through 90 minutes before Lionel Messi saved their blushes striking home an extra time winner for a 1-0 victory. With passage to the Round of 16 secured, Messi saved his best for last with a brace during a 3-2 win over Nigeria, finishing group play with four goals, tying Neymar for the World Cup lead.
Having secured four points in their first two matches, The Super Eagles got some help from the Bosnians on the group’s final day. An Iran loss meant that Nigeria would claim second place in Group F, despite losing 3-2 to Argentina.
The Bosnians disappointed at the World Cup, with some believing they could have been the second team advancing out of the group. The officiating certainly didn’t help them. Meanwhile, Iran's highlight was putting a scare into Argentina before eventually falling. Their lowlight was that they were the last team to score a goal in the tournament and it was their poorest offensive showing in four World Cup appearances.
Argentina — La Albiceleste advance to the Round of 16 for the third straight World Cup and are looking to do the same in reaching the quarterfinals. The fact that Messi is scoring on a regular basis bodes well for them going forward. To beat them, one must win the possession game as they have completed 90-percent of their passes so far. They next play Tuesday against the second place team in Group E.
Nigeria —After two uninspired matches to open the tournament, but grabbing four points in the process, The Super Eagles showed some life in their final game against Argentina and advanced out of group play for the first time since 1998. After two defensive showings, they were exposed at times by the greater Argentinians. Will they be able to clog those holes in time for the Round of 16? They will face the first place team in Group E on Monday.
Man of the Group: Lionel Messi, Argentina. Having only scored once before in the World Cup -- in 2006 -- Messi erupted in group play scoring four times and becoming the first Argentinian player since 1958 to tally in each of the first three matches of the tournament. He's done it all, scoring late winners and beautiful free kicks. He enters the Round of 16 tied with Brazil’s Neymar for the lead with four goals.
Best Goal: No question, it was Messi’s stoppage time winner against Iran:
Best Match: Argentina 3-2 Nigeria. The final game of the group for each side saw plenty of excitement. The two teams scored in the opening five minutes of the match and made history in the process. Quick goals was a theme here as just after halftime Ahmed Musa equalized for Nigeria in the 47th minute. The celebrations didn't last long as Marcos Rojo helped Argentina grab the lead for good three minutes later to make the score 3-2.
Deserved Better: Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were considered "darlings" heading into the World Cup, but an opening match loss to Argentina put them on their heels for the all-important meeting with Nigeria. The match ended 1-0 in favor of The Super Eagles, and a controversial offside call on Edin Dzeko robbed the Bosnians of a goal and a missed call later didn't help matters. The loss eliminated them from the tournament and led to petitions calling for the removal of referee Peter O'Leary. They took out their frustrations on Iran in their final match, winning 3-1, including a Dzeko goal that wasn't called back for offside.
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