Lionel Messi insists he and his Argentina colleagues were always confident of winning their crucial World Cup Group D clash with Nigeria, but admitted he did not expect they would suffer so much against the Super Eagles.
The relieved La Albiceleste talisman scored the opener in Saint Petersburg but the South American powerhouses were heading out after Victor Moses’ penalty made it 1-1.
An unlikely winner from Marcos Rojo four minutes from full-time sent his side through to the last 16, where they have set up a mouthwatering clash with France.
“We already knew we were going to win, we were confident that God would help us, that all would turn out well,” Barcelona star Messi, 31, told Argentine media.
“But we did not expect the complication of the draw, of suffering so much. But what’s important is that we went through.
“Without a doubt, we knew that an opportunity had fallen from the sky after the two games we had not been able to win and we knew we could not let this one escape.”
He has seem burdened by expectation at international level, especially at this tournament where he was underwhelming in the opening 1-1 draw with Iceland and anonymous as Argentina were swept away 3-0 by Croatia in the second game.
Asked how he felt personally, Messi replied: “I’m good. I’m very happy. It would have been very painful to have been eliminated in the first round.”
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