France 4-3 Argentina

In the first of the Round of 16 encounters at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, France defeated Argentina 4-3 in a spectacular game to match their achievement from four years ago and book a place in the quarter-finals.

Proceedings began at a frenetic pace, with not even ten minutes played when Antoine Griezmann curled a free-kick against the crossbar after Kylian Mbappe had been fouled. A few minutes later Mbappe was again brought down, this time in the penalty area, and Greizmann made no mistake from the spot. Argentina needed a spell of possession to compose themselves and digest going behind. They also needed something special to get back into the game, and Angel Di Maria provided it with a stunning long-range strike to bring them level, against the run of play, before the interval.

Buoyed by that equaliser, the South Americans turned the game on its head in the second period. Lionel Messi collected the ball after a free-kick was only half-cleared, and his shot on the turn was diverted into the net by Gabriel Mercado. Les Bleus did not need to wait long to provide the perfect response to going behind, however. Benjamin Pavard scored a wonder goal of his own to make it 2-2, before the irrepressible Mbappe scored twice in four minutes. Argentina replied yet again late on through substitute Sergio Aguero, but it was too little, too late for the South Americans. (30 Jun 2018)

Line-ups

12 ARMANI (GK)
2 MERCADO
3 TAGLIAFICO
7 BANEGA
10 MESSI (C)
11 DI MARIA (-72′)
14 MASCHERANO
15 PEREZ (-66′)
16 MARCOS ROJO (-46′)
17 OTAMENDI
22 PAVON (-75′)

BENCH

1 GUZMAN (GK)
4 ANSALDI
5 BIGLIA
6 FAZIO (+46′)
8 ACUNA
9 HIGUAIN
13 MEZA (+75′)
18 SALVIO
19 KUN AGUERO (+66′)
20 LO CELSO
21 DYBALA
23 CABALLERO (GK)

COACH

SAMPAOLI JORGE

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Nigeria 1-2 Argentina

A late Marcos Rojo goal sent Argentina into the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ knockout stages in dramatic style. Needing a win to have any chance of progression, the defender volleyed La Albiceleste 2-1 in front in the 86th minute to break Nigerian hearts.

Victor Moses’s second-half penalty looked to be enough to earn Nigeria a crucial point, cancelling out a stunning Lionel Messi opener. A raucous and partisan crowd roared on the South Americans, with Messi’s superb thigh control and finish providing a huge emotional release after a frustrating tournament.

Denied a second when Francis Uzoho tipped his free-kick onto the post, Argentina looked to be drifting out of the competition, only for Rojo to score the winner against the Super Eagles for the second finals running. In turn he inflicted Nigeria’s fifth World Cup defeat from five meetings with Argentina, all by a solitary goal. (26 Jun 2018)

Line-ups

12 ARMANI (GK)
2 MERCADO
3 TAGLIAFICO (-80′)
7 BANEGA
9 HIGUAIN
10 MESSI (C)
11 DI MARIA (-72′)
14 MASCHERANO
15 PEREZ (-61′)
16 MARCOS ROJO
17 OTAMENDI

BENCH

1 GUZMAN (GK)
4 ANSALDI
5 BIGLIA
6 FAZIO
8 ACUNA
13 MEZA (+72′)
18 SALVIO
19 KUN AGUERO (+80′)
20 LO CELSO
21 DYBALA
22 PAVON (+61′)
23 CABALLERO (GK)

COACH

SAMPAOLI JORGE

Argentina 0-3 Croatia

Croatia provided the biggest surprise of the day by beating Argentina. Ante Rebic opened the scoring in the 53rd-minute – thanks to a helping hand from Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero – before Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic rounded off a 3-0 victory to book Croatia’s place in the last 16 for the first time since the golden generation of 1998.

The outlook is rather bleaker for Lionel Messi and Argentina, with the 2014 World Cup runners-up on the verge of elimination after collecting just one point from two games. The last time La Albiceleste failed to make it past the group stage was at Korea/Japan 2002. (21 JUN 2018)

Line-ups

23 CABALLERO (GK)
2 MERCADO
3 TAGLIAFICO
8 ACUNA
10 MESSI (C)
13 MEZA
14 MASCHERANO
15 PEREZ (-68′)
17 OTAMENDI
18 SALVIO (-56′)
19 KUN AGUERO (-54′)

BENCH

1 GUZMAN (GK)
4 ANSALDI
5 BIGLIA
6 FAZIO
7 BANEGA
9 HIGUAIN (+54′)
11 DI MARIA
12 ARMANI (GK)
16 MARCOS ROJO
20 LO CELSO
21 DYBALA (+68′)
22 PAVON (+56′)

COACH

SAMPAOLI JORGE

Argentina 1-1 Iceland

The action at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium got off to a thrilling start with the match between FIFA World Cup™ veterans Argentina and debutants Iceland. Despite stamping their authority on the game’s opening stages, La Albiceleste struggled to find space against a deep-lying Icelandic defence. The breakthrough came in the 19th minute when Sergio Aguero fired the ball home on the turn to give Argentina a 1-0 lead. The South Americans’ joy was short-lived, however, as Alfred Finnbogason made history by scoring his country’s first-ever World Cup goal just four minutes later.

Lionel Messi had the biggest opportunity to take the lead in the second half, but his penalty was saved by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson. Although Argentina continued to press for a goal, they were repeatedly denied by the Nordic side’s staunch defensive efforts. (16 JUN 2018)

Line-ups

23 CABALLERO (GK)
3 TAGLIAFICO
5 BIGLIA (-54′)
10 MESSI (C)
11 DI MARIA (-75′)
13 MEZA (-84′)
14 MASCHERANO
16 MARCOS ROJO
17 OTAMENDI
18 SALVIO
19 KUN AGUERO

BENCH

1 GUZMAN (GK)
2 MERCADO
4 ANSALDI
6 FAZIO
7 BANEGA (+54′)
8 ACUNA
9 HIGUAIN (+84′)
12 ARMANI (GK)
15 PEREZ
20 LO CELSO
21 DYBALA
22 PAVON (+75′)

COACH

SAMPAOLI JORGE

Argentina 4-0 Haiti

Lionel Messi grabbed the spotlight in Buenos Aires with a hat-trick as the home side put four unanswered goals past Haiti.

La Albiceleste’s No10 scored a quickfire second-half double to add to a first-half penalty, before setting up Sergio Aguero for the final goal of the match.

It was a night of celebration for another Barcelona star as Javier Mascherano joined Javier Zanetti as Argentina’s most-capped player with 143 international appearances. (29 MAY 2018)

Spain 6-1 Argentina

Isco scored a hat trick as Spain romped to a 6-1 victory over Argentina in Madrid, where Lionel Messi again watched from the stands. (27 MAR 2018)

Argentina 2-0 Italy

Lionel Messi watched from the stands as Argentina began their World Cup build-up with a lacklustre 2-0 win over Italy at the Etihad Stadium. Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini both struck in the latter stages to put some gloss on an otherwise underwhelming performance. (23 MAR 2018)