Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to a 3-1 win against Nigeria in their friendly match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday. Although the Barcelona superstar failed to grab a goal and thus end his scoring duck since a 4-0 win against Albania in Buenos Aires in June, he assisted in both goals when Real Madrid’s stars Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria scored on 24 and 26 minutes. Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi managed to revive Nigeria on 46 minutes but Uwa Elderson Echiejile’s 65th minute own goal sealed the Super Eagles’ fate. The victory made it two out of two for new Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella, who began his reign with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Venezuela in Kolkata on Sept 2.
Messi made a solo run down the ground, beating three defenders with speed before entering the box and firing a low shot that hit off the goal-keeper Ayenugba and fell right to Di Maria, who put in the rebound from a metre out. Two minutes earlier, Higuain settled Messi’s lofted through ball at the top of the box with his chest, lowering the ball before firing home a right-footed shot to the left side of the goal. The last friendly between Argentina and Nigeria saw the West African side win 4-1 against the second-string South Americans in June and they headed into this match buoyed by 2-0 win over Madagascar which got their African Nations Cup qualifying campaign back on track. The friendly was Argentina’s last official encounter before they open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign against Chile on October 7.
ARGENTINA: Romero; Burdisso, Demichelis, Otamendi, Zabaleta, Mascherano, Rojo; Sosa, Di Maria, Messi, Higuain.
NIGERIA: Ayenugba; Okonkwo, Elderson, Yobo, Ambrose; Joel Obi, John Mikel Obi, Musa; Obinna, Anichebe, Uche.