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

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Lionel Messi

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 Withdrawn for Aguero with firepower needed. 6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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