Catch all the action from the match between Argentina and Nigeria through our live blog.
Held by Iceland and humiliated by Croatia, Argentina's World Cup could already have been all but over, but Lionel Messi and the rest of Jorge Sampaoli's troubled squad have one final shot at redemption against Nigeria on Tuesday. Victory against the Africans, who Argentina have beaten in all four previous World Cup meetings, will secure qualification for the last 16 as long as Iceland don't shock already-qualified Croatia. Even if Iceland claim a first ever World Cup victory, Argentina could still progress on goal difference. However, bouncing back will take a huge improvement in performance and strength of character so far unseen from the two-time world champions in Russia. The Argentina federation were even moved on Saturday to confirm that Sampaoli would continue for the final group game among rumours of a rift between players and coach.
Jun 27, 2018 1:24 am (IST)
It's all over here, Argentina get together and are celebrating. Nigeria are down on the ground, Messi dares to dream for another day but Argentina will have to really pull up their socks if they are to progress any further in this tournament.
Jun 27, 2018 1:19 am (IST)
Meanwhile, news from elsewhere is that Croatia have scored and are now 2-1 up. Perisic getting the goal there
Jun 27, 2018 1:16 am (IST)
GOAL! Big goal here and Argentina score! Marcos Rojo of all people with a striker like finish here, great ball in from the flanks from Mercado and Rojo with a stunning finish, Argentina lead 2-1 here and just 4 minutes of normal time remain
Jun 27, 2018 1:12 am (IST)
Higuain with a superb chance but his shot goes blazing over the bar. That was a chance which should have been converted, Argentina might well live to regret this
Jun 27, 2018 1:07 am (IST)
Nigeria almost seal the deal here, Ogholo should have scored but he hits it wide. The ref also checks for the VAR for a handball by Rojo but he decides against it, you have to say that's the right decision, the ball did strike the arm but it wasn't in an unnatural position. Argentina just about survive, 13 minutes left here and it is still 1-1
Jun 27, 2018 1:00 am (IST)
Ndidi with a shot from outside and its a thunderous strike which goes just over the crossbar, meanwhile Di Maria, who was having an absolute howler is replaced by Meza.
Jun 27, 2018 12:59 am (IST)
Maschareno with a deep bruise on his cheek here and he is bleeding, Argentina heads also starting to drop here..They just seem to have given up here and really need some inspiration
Jun 27, 2018 12:53 am (IST)
As expected, Argentina having most of the ball here and Nigeria falling back. Messi also getting deeper as he tries to be more influential in the game. 26 minutes left in St. Petersburg and it is still 1-1
Jun 27, 2018 12:49 am (IST)
Argentina are certainly not looking the same as they were in the first half, Pavon is coming on here for Perez. Messi also not getting on the ball as much as he did in the first half
Jun 27, 2018 12:40 am (IST)
Penalty to Nigeria here! and its really out of nothing, Maschareno is booked for getting his hands all over Balogun from the corner kick. Moses takes the penalty and calmly puts it into the back of the net, sending the keeper the wrong way! Big goal for Nigeria here and we are level at 1-1!
Jun 27, 2018 12:34 am (IST)
Second half starts and Nigeria with a substitution at half-time, striker Kelechi Iheanacho is replaced by Odion Ighalo.
Jun 27, 2018 12:18 am (IST)
That's the half-time whistle here then and it is 1-0 to Argentina, thanks to Lionel Messi. The half really belonged to the team from South America, who have been dominant right from the word go. Nigeria will be looking for a better performance in the second half.
Jun 27, 2018 12:16 am (IST)
Etebo with a shot for Nigeria which goes for a throw in, summing up Nigeria's half, Argentina though still not assured at the back here. They would have also liked another goal.
Jun 27, 2018 12:10 am (IST)
40 minutes gone here and its still 1-0 to Argentina, Nigeria really need a plan B here, they haven't troubled Argentina or their debutant goalkeeper Franco Armani so far
Jun 27, 2018 12:04 am (IST)
POST! Messi with a stunning free-kick but he is denied there by the post! Really unlucky on that occassion, the keeper got his fingertips on that one and that saved the ball from going into the net. 35 mins gone here and it is 1-0 to Argentina.
Jun 27, 2018 12:03 am (IST)
Controversy here, Angel Di Maria is on his bike and almost through to the keeper but Nigerian defender tackles him from behind. Ref gives a yellow card even as Argentina hopes its a red, but nonetheless its a free kick from 20 yards out here
Jun 26, 2018 11:58 pm (IST)
63% possession for Argentina as compared to 37% for Nigeria, been all one way traffic so far and Nigeria need to find a way to comeback into this one. Messi almost puts Higuain through there but Nigeria's goalkeeper comes ahead and shows great bravery to get a touch..he is also hurt in the process there
Jun 26, 2018 11:53 pm (IST)
Nigeria have just not turned up here, they have stitched together a couple of passes but lacking quality in the final third. With Argentina, you feel a mistake is always there in the backline. Maschareno already with a couple of strayed passes. Still a lot left you have to say in this game
Messi has done it! Who else but him Maradona is proud as well. Ever Banega with a sensational from the deep, Messi takes it down with a sensational first touch and then fires it in the back of the net. The Argentina bench erupts and they lead 1-0!
Jun 26, 2018 11:43 pm (IST)
Argentina dominating the early proceedings, they have more than 70% of the possession and Nigeria more than happy to hold back at the moment, they are looking to play on the counter here
Jun 26, 2018 11:39 pm (IST)
Ahmed Musa with the first shot for Nigeria after Tangelidco comes close for Argentina, both though didn't trouble the keeper.
Jun 26, 2018 11:37 pm (IST)
Messi with his trademark run from the left, goes past a couple of players before Obi Mikel got his leg in there.First of the many challenges you expect Messi to get tonight!
Jun 26, 2018 11:32 pm (IST)
Good start by Argentina here, they look to be playing with a 4-4-2 here, with Higuain and Messi up front at the moment..Nigeria not really getting many touches on the ball
Jun 26, 2018 11:28 pm (IST)
So, the national anthems are done and both teams look absolutely pumped. Argentina are also starting with their oldest ever starting line-up in a World Cup! They will need all that experience here..we are just minutes away from kick-off now!
Jun 26, 2018 11:23 pm (IST)
Both teams are on the field now, lining up for the national anthems. All eyes on Lionel Messi, who certainly seems to have a smile on his face today. Can he be the man once again for Argentina?
Jun 26, 2018 11:20 pm (IST)
Diego Maradona is again watching from the stands and as we write this he is waving a huge Maradona banner from the balcony!
Jun 26, 2018 11:11 pm (IST)
The pressure will certainly be on Lionel Messi and Co, however they have beaten Nigeria in the previous four meetings at World Cup, and they will be looking to continue with the same record here. Nigeria will be looking up to Mikel and Musa - both players with Premier League experience to deliver for them and guide them through to the Round of 16!
It seems that Sampaoli is playing a 4-3-3 today, with Di Maria and Higuain up front to support Lionel Messi. Ever Banega, Perez and Maschareno will be the midfielders, with Rojo,Otamendi pairing at the back, supported by Mercado and Tagliafico
"I get the feeling there's a general anger at the heart of the team," said Argentina's legendary 1986 World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona. "I'm furious and very upset inside, because anyone who wore that shirt can't see it being trampled like that by a Croatian team that isn't Germany, that isn't Brazil, that isn't Holland or Spain." For all his heroics with Barcelona at club level, Messi is still often compared unfavourably in his homeland for his inability to recreate Maradona's success for the national team. Messi led Argentina to the World Cup final four years ago and consecutive Copa America finals in the following two years, but all three ended in defeat.
And his 31st birthday on Sunday only served to highlight how time is running out for Messi to win a major international tournament. Without the five-time World Player of the Year, though, it is highly unlikely Argentina would even have qualified. Messi salvaged a disastrous campaign under three different managers with a hat-trick away to Ecuador in the Albiceleste's final qualifier. In their hour of need, Argentina need Messi's best once more. "Leo is fine," insisted veteran midfielder Javier Mascherano, who knows Messi better than most having spent eight years as his club team-mate at Barcelona. "He is a human being who has his frustrations because things haven't worked out, but so are we all. Like it our not, we are the runners-up from the World Cup and we have to show it."
So far in Russia, Messi has been held scoreless. He missed a penalty among 11 unsuccessful shots on goal in a 1-1 draw with Iceland before failing to make any meaningful impact in an error-strewn Argentine display against Croatia. A month on from Messi's rescue mission in Ecuador, he sat out a friendly as Nigeria beat Argentina 4-2 back in November to highlight how reliant even a squad containing Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala remain on their number 10. "It is the most critical situation I have experienced, along with the Ecuador game," said Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia on Sunday. "But sometimes you have to cling to something." Argentina are clinging to the hope their captain bails them out again.