The hastag in Nigeria had something to do with die-for-Nigeria. But the Super Eagles did not die for Nigeria and so they live for the next plane ticket back home in Lagos.
The 11 players were almost men against Messi’s Argentina. Not even a gift from Mascherano in a form of a converted penalty could fire the Super Eagles into a sustained fight to finish with a draw needed to qualify.
Many moments, mainly Musa-engineered magic, fell to the Super Eagles to finish the game but a faulty last pass, flawed technique or a stronger last man denied Nigeria a goal in open play.
But when the tape is replayed it will freeze at the 11 minute moment when Iheanacho frooze on the ball at 19 yards with two defenders to beat.
He did nothing but fall to the ground under minimum pressure passing on the responsibility of doing something to the referee with his weak appeals for foul.
But while Iheanacho’s mind went blank, Messi’s mind sparked. Minutes later, Rojo deep in his half split the Super Eagles with the kind of pass Ahmed Musa was dying to have all throughout the game.
The piercing Marcus Rojo pass found Messi’s mercuric movement, leaving him with a defender and a petrified goalkeeper to beat.
Not a hard chore to score for a player who has wiped the floor with four players before. Good first touch, blistering shot across the face of goal and into the far post.
It was a deserved lead against another dull Nigeria first-half display. And Argentina repeated this attacking routine of splitting long range passes. Same routine different players with Di Maria this time on hand to recieve the pass and dart towards the goal until Balogun clipped him to concede a freekick which was good as a penalty for Messi.
His carefully weighted shot into the top corner of the right post fractionally turned away not by the keeper but the side post.
In what could have been his last game in Russia, Lionel Messi moved better, appeared in the mood for magic and even jumped better, beating a Nigerian to a header.
And his 27minute pass caused injury to the goalkeeper as it set Higuain on a collision course with the man between the sticks.