Tuesday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup action features four games: Denmark vs. France and Australia vs. Peru in the final Group C games and Nigeria vs. Argentina and Iceland vs. Croatia in the Group D finales. Check below for game reports, highlights and other key facts from World Cup 2018 Day 13.
4 p.m. ET, Argentina 2, Nigeria 2:
Marcos Rojo single-footedly clipped the wings of Nigeria’s Super Eagles and became a national hero in Argentina.
Argentina defeated Nigeria 2-1 on Tuesday in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D finale on Rojo’s dramatic winning goal. The result lifts Argentina into second place in Group D and secures its passage to the Round of 16, while the loss confirms Nigeria’s elimination from World Cup 2018 in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
Carrying the weight of Argentina’s World Cup expectations, Lionel Messi put his country in front after just 14 minutes with this gem of a goal.
Messi’s strike ended his 662-minute World Cup goal drought, per Opta, and seemingly put Argentina on course for victory and a place in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Argentina outplayed Nigeria during the rest of the first half but failed to add to its lead. Maintaining the edge became Argentina’s chief aim in the second half, but La Celeste held on too tight for the referee’s liking. Javier Mascherano pulled down Leon Balogun inside his own penalty area in the 50th minute and conceded a penalty kick. Nigeria’s Victor Moses converted from the spot.
Facing elimination after Moses scored, Argentina played with greater urgency as the game approached full time, but it looked like that winning goal would never come.
Then, that goal came from a source we probably should have expected: Rojo, Argentina’s left back, who demonstrated fantastic technique on his finish.
Rojo’s goal caused worldwide pandemonium and spared Argentina from World Cup humiliation, at least for now.
Man of the Match: Messi claims MOTM honors for his goal and his role in Argentina’s stirring win.
Next up: Argentina will play France at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday in the Round of 16. Nigeria will return home, having failed to advance from the group stage.
4 p.m. ET, Croatia 2, Iceland 1:
If you haven’t jumped on the Croatia bandwagon at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it might be too late after the European nation’s latest win in Group D.
The Croatians beat Iceland 2-1 on Tuesday to clinch first place in Group D with a perfect 3-0-0 record. The win solidifies Croatia as a real threat to win this World Cup.
Iceland fought valiantly, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a last-place finish in the group (0-1-2).
Milan Badelj opened the scoring for Croatia in the 52nd minute when he found the back of the net.
Gylfi Sigurdsson tied the score 1-1 with a successful penalty kick in the 76th minute, giving Iceland a chance to reach the Round of 16.
Iceland fought hard for a winner, but Croatia broke its heart by finishing the game with a goal in the 90th minute. Ivan Perisic struck the decisive note.
Man of the Match
Badelj claims MOTM honors on the back of his early goal.
Croatia will play Denmark at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday in the Round of 16. Iceland will have to wait until the 2018 UEFA European Championship for another chance at winning a major international tournament.
Noon ET, Denmark 0, France 0(Final):
France and Denmark played a goalless draw — the first of the tournament so far — Tuesday, ensuring both teams would go through to the Round of 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The point gave France seven through three Group C games and earned them the top spot. Denmark finishes second in the group with five points.
France held a 68-32 percent advantage in possession and outshot Denmark 11-4. Neither team created many A-plus scoring chances, and the sides combined for just six corner kicks.
The French gave a few regular starters the game off, as Hugo Lloris and others began the game on the bench. French winger Thomas Lemar started his first career World Cup game, too.
Man of the Match
France’s all-action midfielder N’Golo Kante is the man of the match.
France will play Argentina at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday in the Round of 16, while Denmark will play Croatia at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday in the Round of 16.
Noon ET, Australia 0, Peru 2 (Final):
Peru can be proud of its soccer team’s efforts this summer.
Peru defeated Australia 2-0 on Tuesday in their final 2018 FIFA World Cup Group C game. Having already been eliminated from World Cup contention, Peru leaves the tournament on a high note, while Australia’s faint hopes of progression to the Round of 16 evaporated with the loss and Denmark’s goalless draw with France.
After failing to score in its first two World Cup 2018 games, Peru finally gave its legions of fans in attendance a reason to rejoice. Winger Andre Carrillo did the honors in the 18th minute when he scored his country’s first World Cup goal in three-plus decades.
Peru talisman Paulo Guerrero doubled Peru’s lead in the 50th minute. His emotional reaction to his strike says everything about his years’-long journey to this World Cup moment.
Peru came close to adding to its lead over the course of the second half but ultimately failed to do so. Australia gave Peru little cause for concern over the final stages of the game and thus tearfully exit the tournament.
Peru’s World Cup journey also ends but its fans won’t forget this game anytime soon.
Man of the Match: Carrillo’s game-winning goal netted him MOTM honors.
Up Next: Australia and Peru have been eliminated from World Cup 2018 and will head home from Russia.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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