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World Cup 2018

5 shots from day 13: Messi weaves his magic

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against Nigeria.
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against Nigeria. Reuters/Sergio Perez

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  • Lines of the times

Peru beat Australia 2-0 to leave their first World Cup since 1982 with some honour. Veteran striker Paulo Guererro scored his 35th goal for his country during the victory making him at 34 years and 176 days the third oldest South American player to score at a World Cup. Only Obdulio Varela – 36 years and 279 days and Argentina’s Martin Palermo - 36 years and  227 days were older. Guerrero has, as well as his lawyers, the captains from the other teams in Group C to thank. The likes of Australia’s Mile Jedinak and France’s Hugo Lloris appealed to the world game’s ruling body Fifa to lift a ban on him so that he could play at the tournament in the twilight of his career. Hard hearted bigwigs at Fifa threw the book at him and suspended him for taking cocaine. Line those captains up for Christmas cards.

  • Star trek – the search for Messi

Space - behind the World Cup ..these are the voyages of the star striker Lionel Messi. His five week mission ...The lad Leo was in a nebula far, far away near the Ozil distillation. Bubbling there was UrMessi. His performances for Argentina in the first two Group D games were incriminations of what we have witnessed before. But then the transfusion. His soul descended back into his body. And Nigeria suffered. His first goal for Argentina at the World Cup was a run off the shoulder of Kenneth Omeruo to collect a flighted pass on his left thigh, the ball dropped onto his left foot, he took a touch to take it away from the flailing defender and before Omeruo could recover it was on Messi’s right foot and lashed right to left across the Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho. Messi raced to the touchline, knelt and raised both hands and pointed to the sky: thanks for beaming me down.

  • Moses comes good

The review remembers the former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi once musing about the stuttering career of the Nigeria midfielder Victor Moses. This was back at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations which Nigeria won. Moses was a Chelsea player but he wasn’t established. “Victor Moses is a really good player,” sighed Keshi in his avuncular you dare not disagree with me way. “I just can’t understand why no one else can see it,” he added.When Antonio Conte arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2016, he had a look at Moses and saw a promising man. Moses was one of the key players as Chelsea cantered to the 2017 English Premier League title. The Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr also praised him for his willingness to track back and do the defensive work during Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup campaign. The review liked the way he took the penalty against Argentina on day 13. Several Argentina players were stalling and trying to up the pressure as he stood near the ball. Once the referee had ushered them away, Moses stepped up and sent Franco Armani the wrong way. 1-1. And a somersault to celebrate. Sadly, Moses and the rest of the Nigeria team weren’t head over heels at the end of the 90 minutes.

  • Four minute warning

Marcos Rojo slotted in Argentina’s winner in the 86th minute against Nigeria. It was a coolly executed volley and sent the Argentina fans in the Saint Petersburg Stadium into a frenzy. They were swinging their shirts, spilling the beer and generally hugging their sweaty chums. It was wild. But really Argentina, that it should come to four minutes from the end? You want to do fourth minute of stoppage time like the Germans.

  • No shocks

Groups A, B C, D have been decided. Where are the surprises? Russia, perhaps, from Group A. They progressed to the last 16 instead of a much hyped Egypt. In Group B, Spain and Portugal were expected and delivered. France from Group C was foreseen and in Group D, Croatia and Argentina were the big guns and they’ve come through. On day 14 and 15, the last four groups will offer up its quick and dead. We want surprises.

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