In the latest Argentina news, Gonzalo Higuain has admitted they simply had to beat Nigeria in their World Cup Group D showdown on Tuesday and said the sense of relief was “huge” at the final whistle as qualification for the last 16 was achieved.
The South Americans were facing an early exit from the tournament in Russia with the game at 1-1, but Marcos Rojo fired home a late winner to ensure they made it through to the knockout stages.
Lionel Messi had scored in the first half before a Victor Moses penalty levelled the clash in St Petersburg. Nigeria were on the brink of progressing themselves behind Group D winners Croatia before Rojo’s intervention in the 86th minute.
The majority of the fans inside the stadium celebrated wildly as Jorge Sampaoli’s side edged through to set up a last-16 tie against France on Saturday in Kazan.
Higuain said Argentina were nervous as Tuesday’s game developed given what was at stake, but he was delighted they got the job done in the end under immense pressure.
He said: “It was win or die. When they got the penalty, that made the game very uncomfortable for us. We wouldn’t have deserved to get knocked out but the anxiety came.
“All those images, all those feelings come to mind, but what is important is that the team overcame that anxiety. To score was a huge relief. It was win or win, there was nothing else.
“When the referee blew, an immense happiness went through my body: for our families, all the people who have suffered at our side, for us here, giving everything. The release was huge.”
Argentina had initially impressed in the first half against the Super Eagles but retreated after the break and were living dangerously until Manchester United defender Rojo struck to ensure they picked up their first win of the tournament following a draw against Iceland and defeat to Croatia in their earlier group games.
After stuttering to get through the group, Argentina are now rated at 12/1 in the outright World Cup 2018 market with bet365.