Lionel Messi said Argentina “didn’t deserve to go out in the first round” as he and his teammates barely escaped elimination at the World Cup with a late 2-1 win over Nigeria on Tuesday.
Messi scored Argentina’s opener, but a second-half Nigeria penalty kick meant they were staring at the exit door until Marcos Rojo volleyed home the winner in the 86th minute.
Following an opening draw with Iceland and a 3-0 defeat to Croatia, the pressure on Messi and Argentina was clear, but he said the players still believed they would prevail.
“It was an amazing way to qualify,” Messi told TyC Sports after the game. “It took a lot from us but we didn’t deserve to go out in the first round, so we’re all very happy. We knew we were going to win, but we hadn’t expected it to be as tough as it was.”
Messi admitted that Argentina were feeling the nerves as they pushed for a winning goal and said it was a “huge relief for all of us” to go through.