Man United's Marcos Rojo is our Hero of the Day as he keeps Argentina's World Cup dream alive

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Brought to you by Dior Sauvage

A bolt from the blue saw Marcos Rojo etch his name in Argentina football folklore.

A dramatic 86th minute strike from the Manchester United defender sealed three points for his side, carrying them into the next round of the World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria.

Lionel Messi’s sumptuous control and finish opened the scoring before Victor Moses equalised from the spot for the Super Eagles only for Rojo to grab the headlines.

Here, we take a closer look at the man of the moment.

STATISTICS

30-SECOND REPORT

Rojo was drafted back into the starting line-up to partner Nicolas Otamendi in central defence after Jorge Sampaoli’s ill-advised switch to three at the back in a 3-0 defeat to Croatia. He was utterly dominant in the air as he helped keep a dangerous two-pronged attack of Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho relatively quiet.

Meanwhile, only Otamendi (8) made more clearances than Rojo (5) as they had to weather the onslaught from Nigeria in the second half before he popped up with the all-important winner.

GOT RIGHT

FINISH – While his defensive contributions were valuable on the night, it’s that one moment that will live long in the memory of every Argentina supporter.

La Albiceleste were chasing the game and while they managed to exert a considerable amount of pressure on Nigeria, a wayward shot from Gonzalo Higuain was all they could muster in terms of efforts at goal in the second half.

Fortune favours the brave and Rojo boldly left his station and ventured into the opposition’s box unmarked. When the chance fell to him, the finish was unerring.

GOT WRONG

RASH CALLS – While he did manage one key pass, his attempts to go direct from back to front were often fruitless as only one of his five long balls were accurate. That made for a relatively poor pass accuracy of 71.2 per cent in comparison to his more composed centre-back partner, who registered 89.2 per cent.

He was fortunate not to concede a penalty for a high boot in clearing the ball ahead of Iheanacho, while a poor defensive header could’ve proved costly.

VERDICT

With one swing of his weaker right foot, a nation was sent into delirium. Argentina live to fight another day and Rojo may never score a more important goal.

Messi riding on his back during the wild celebrations was a welcome change and somewhat symbolic.

RATING: 7/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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Nigeria player ratings as Wilfred Ndidi dominates but Kelechi Iheanacho flops in Argentina defeat

Chris Bailey 27/06/2018
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Cometh the hour, cometh the man … Marcos Rojo? The Manchester United centre-back pulled out an exquisite finish that no one knew he had to save Argentina’s skins and reach the round of 16.

Lionel Messi came alive in the first half and fired La Albiceleste into the lead, but Nigeria levelled from the spot through Victor Moses and the indiscretions of Javier Mascherano.

Check out our Nigeria ratings on a dramatic night:

NIGERIA (3-5-2)

Francis Uzoho – The faintest of fingertips directed Messi’s free-kick on to the post. A commanding presence – hard to believe he’s only 19. 7

Leon Balogun – The most jumbled of mixed bags. Silly foul on Di Maria could have spelled disaster but ‘allowed’ himself to be fouled in the box by Mascherano. 6

William Troost-Ekong – Tidier than his defensive colleagues. Aimless lumped balls from the back didn’t help in easing the pressure. 6

Kenneth Omeruo – Caught on his heels for Messi’s goal though much was down to the Argentine. Dragged out of position and clumsy at times. 5

Victor Moses – Who knew Moses could take a penalty like that? It was his only offensive contribution of the game, however. 6

Wilfred Ndidi – Tireless engine in the middle, a fire blanket over Mascherano and company. Had one glorious chance he should have squared. 8

John Obi Mikel – Nigeria’s captain is also their chief playmaker but he was ponderous on the ball at times, not as energetic as Ndidi. 5

Oghenekaro Etebo – Buccaneering presence through the centre with five completed dribbles. Not graceful but fun to watch. 7

Brian Idowu – Had the left flank under lock and key with five tackles, three clearances and three interceptions. 7

Kelechi Iheanacho – Frustration personified. Lacked composure and failed to feed off strike partner Musa’s buzzing energy. 4

Ahmed Musa – The only Nigeria attacker you’d back every time with the ball at his feet. A menace to Mascherano, didn’t get consistent service. 7

SUBSTITUTES

Odion Ighalo – There’s very little between him and Iheanacho – which isn’t a good thing. Fired superb opportunity straight at Armani. 4

Alex Iwobi – Arsenal youngster failed to get a start for Nigeria and didn’t have enough time in the dying moments to make an impression. N/A

Simy – Much like Iwobi, the Crotone forward thrown on to no avail N/A

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Argentina player ratings as Lionel Messi earns 7 while shocking Javier Mascherano gets 3

Chris Bailey 27/06/2018
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Cometh the hour, cometh the man … Marcos Rojo? The Manchester United centre-back pulled out an exquisite finish that no one knew he had to save Argentina’s skins and reach the round of 16.

Lionel Messi came alive in the first half and fired La Albiceleste into the lead but Nigeria levelled from the spot through Victor Moses and the indiscretions of Javier Mascherano.

Check out our Argentina ratings on a dramatic night:

ARGENTINA (4-4-2)

Franco Armani – A replacement for the hapless Caballero, could only watch on in misery as Moses slotted the penalty. Stood firm to keep out Ighalo near the end. 6

Gabriel Mercado – It was already clear that he is a better defender than Salvio before his sumptuous assist for Rojo showed what he could do offensively. 7

Nicolas Otamendi – Perhaps he pretended that he was wearing a Man City shirt – much sturdier and made a game-high eight clearances. 7

Marcos Rojo – His needless karate kick on Iheanacho could, and should, have brought a spot-kick but oh my, what a finish. 7

Nicolas Tagliafico – Has been a mild bright spot for Argentina, dimmed somewhat here. Withdrawn for Aguero with firepower needed. 6

Enzo Perez – Was successful with 97 per cent of his passes but the problem was that not one of them was incisive. Off for Pavon on the hour. 5

Javier Mascherano – Shambolic display. Gift-wrapped a chance to Iheanacho and should have known better to lay hands on Balogun for the penalty. 3

Ever Banega – Classiest player on the park. Two brilliant through balls in the first half, including the one that Messi finished with aplomb. Why was this his first start of the World Cup? 8

Angel Di Maria – Recalled with Sampaoli out of options and, save for drawing one foul in a dangerous area, disappointed again. 5

Lionel Messi – Made two outrageous touches before he steered past Uzoho. Only turned up for the last quarter of the second half, though. He had to be in the spotlight for the entire 90. 7

Gonzalo Higuain – Held up the ball well early on, lacked any service from wide as Nigeria coaxed play into central areas. Shocking miss late on when his country needed him. 5

SUBS

Maximiliano Meza – Came on with 20 minutes to go and made a grand total of five passes. 5

Cristian Pavon – Much like Meza, the ‘impact players’ off the bench speaks of how average Argentina are. 5

Sergio Aguero – Ineffective late on with big bodies crowding the box, same old story in this tournament. N/A

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