No Messi, No Party! Argentina Knocked out as Nigeria Pull-off Historic Win

No Messi, No Party! Argentina Knocked out as Nigeria Pull-off Historic Win
Credit: @CAF_Online

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria battled the Argentina U20 side in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup Round of 16 at the San Juan del Bicentenario Stadium on Wednesday.

Argentina was gunning for a record seventh-time triumph in the Youth Championship. Meanwhile, Nigeria was looking to make it into the last eight after being two-time runners-up in this tournament and exacting revenge against the same country, who denied them the title at the 2005 edition. FIFA World Cup 2022 winner Lionel Messi grabbed both goals against John Mikel Obi's Nigeria on the day.

However, with no Messi in their ranks, the Argentina U20 side lacked motivation as they exited the competition. After a cagey first half where Ladan Bosso's boys executed a perfect game plan, it was the Flying Eagles of Nigeria, who, at the foothills of the Andes, climbed over Argentina in the second half of the game to emerge with a stunning 2-0 victory. Ibrahim Beji Mohammed and Rilwanu Haliru Sarki got the goals for the Nigerians.

Argentina vs Nigeria: As It Happened

Nigeria began the match with more possession, pressuring the Argentine defence. In the 9th minute, the first clear-cut chance fell to Mohammed, but his effort went inches wide. The intensity of the match increased, and both teams kept attacking, but without troubling the goalposts. It was an even first half, with both teams finding it difficult to trouble the other.

The second half started with Argentina pressing Nigeria hard. It almost paid off in the 50th minute, with the Flying Eagles goalie Aniagboso making a great save in the 50th minute to keep the scores at 0-0.

With Argentina looking dangerous, the Nigerian coach made changes in the 57th minute. Jude Sunday was substituted for Rilwanu Haliru Sarki, and Samson Lawal took Umeh Emmanuel's place.

It was a masterstroke as the changes turned the game on its head. Substitute Emmanuel delivered a neat pass to Ibrahim Beji Mohammad, who wiggled his way past his marker, sending a low shot down the right side of the Argentine goal.

Shocked to go behind, Argentina responded almost instantly to level the scores immediately after going down. The home side made changes in the 75th minute to try and get themselves back into the game, attacking with intensity in the next few minutes.

Nigeria felt the pressure as they also had over 21,000 fans to contend with. But as time went on without a goal, Argentine players began to lose control and looked disappointed for not levelling up the match.

The home side's lack of firepower in front of goal gave Nigeria the chance to seal the win. Victor Eletu, who emerged from the bench in the 79th minute and is on the books for AC Milan, assisted Sarki in injury time to confirm Nigeria's place in the quarterfinals.

The Albiceleste tried to score, but it was not to be as the Flying Eagles defended well and held on to a 0-2 famous win over the South Americans.

The last time Nigeria made the quarterfinals was in the 2011 edition, where they lost to France. There is no denying them this time as they await the winner between Ecuador and the Korean Republic.

This article was most recently revised and updated 12 months ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.