Nigeria focused on defending against Argentine playmakers Lionel Messi and Riquelme, ensuring that Argentina had no chance to launch an attack on goal in the opening minutes of the first half. Argentina appealed for a penalty when Messi was felled in the box 21 minutes into the game, but the referee let it go. Nigeria looked threatening in the 35th minute when Odemwingie whipped the ball across the face of the box, but the ball bounced off the unprepared Nigerian captain Promise Isaac.
Argentina also tried hard to break the deadlock but it was to no avail. Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago chipped the ball to Sergio Aguero in the 37th minute, but Aguero's tame header was easily stopped by Nigerian goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin. In the closing minutes of the first half, Argentine midfielder Angel Di Maria unleashed a great long-range shot that forced Vanzekin to make a diving leap to his right and tip the ball behind the line. Messi started well in the second half, squeezing a shot towards goal but Vanzekin punched the ball away.
The winning goal came only eight minutes later when Messi found an unmarked Di Maria who calmly chipped the ball over the fast-approaching Vanzekin and into the back of the net. Nigeria almost snatched an equalizer when the ball bounced off Isaac's toes in front of goal. However, Romero quickly cleared the ball from danger. Nigeria had another chance to equalize when Victor Anichebe, who came on in the 64th minute, almost scored a goal with his first touch of the game. Romero, however, forced the Nigerian forward's shot to dribble past the post. Messi had a chance to double Argentina's lead in the 77th minute, but he was stopped by the Nigerian defense. Anchibe again had a great chance to score for Nigeria but a great diving save from Romero averted a disaster.Pix by Getty Images.