BBC Sport world-cup-2010


Argentina 1-0 Nigeria

By Jonathan Stevenson
  1. 14:28 Commentary  

    Good afternoon everybody. I’m Jonathan Stevenson, I’m in Johannesburg and about eight miles up the road, the World Cup’s about to get a little bit Messi…

  2. 14:31 Commentary Argentina v Nigeria line-ups:  

    Argentina: Romero, Gutierrez, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze, Veron, Mascherano, Di Maria, Tevez, Messi, Higuain.
    Subs: Pozo, Rodriguez, Burdisso, Bolatti, Garce, Otamendi, Aguero, Palermo, Milito, Maxi, Pastore, Andujar.
    Nigeria: Enyeama, Odiah, Yobo, Shittu, Taiwo, Kaita, Etuhu, Haruna, Obasi Ogbuke, Yakubu, Obinna.
    Subs: Ejide, Kanu, Afolabi, Utaka, Martins, Ideye, Odemwingie, Uche, Yussuf, Echiejile, Adeleye, Aiyenugbu.
    Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)

  3. 14:33 Commentary Argentina v Nigeria team news:  

    With a wealth of attacking options at his disposal, Argentina coach Diego Maradona has gone with a front three of Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City. Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez starts at right-back. Bolton's Danny Shittu and Joseph Yobo of Everton are the Nigeria defenders tasked with shackling Messi and co. Fulham's Dickson Etuhu plays in the centre of midfield, with Yobo's club team-mate Yakubu Aiyegbeni starting up front with Victor Obinna, meaning there is no place for either Nwankwo Kanu or Obefami Martins.

  4. Contributor BBC Sport's Jurgen Klinsmann  

    "The players love Diego Maradona - Argentina players, the other team's players, everyone! But I think the brains of this Argentine side right now is probably [assistant boss] Carlos Bilardo."

  5. 14:38 Commentary  

    Come on then, let's be having you. Usual rules apply for getting in touch: I'm on Twitter @Stevo_football; you can send texts to 81111 (UK) and +44 7786200666 (worldwide); and the 606 debate is already raging.

  6. 14:42 Commentary  

    Don’t worry, there will be plenty of pre-England v USA chat throughout the afternoon, but it seems only fair to concentrate on the second Group B contest of the day as Argentina take on Nigeria. All eyes, then, on two of the biggest superstars at this or indeed any World Cup – Diego Armando Maradona and Lionel Andres Messi. Frankly, as I tried to find out, anything could happen.

  7. Twitter  

    From dujek: "After the performances from France and Greece I'm looking forward to some real football. Prediction - 5-3 Argentina."

  8. 14:48 Commentary  

    If you don’t know much about either team, why not check out our handy team guides on Argentina and Nigeria? There also also videos for your delectation – UK web only and international versions of Argentina and UK web only and international versions of Nigeria. It’s boot-filling time. Make haste!

  9. Contributor BBC Sport's Emmanuel Adebayor  

    "Kanu is my inspiration, he is the player I looked up to when I was growing up and I'm so happy for him that he is at this World Cup. He is one of the greatest African players of all."

  10. 14:53 Commentary  

    On 25 June, 1994, Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 in the group stage at the World Cup in USA. The winner, after 29 minutes, was scored by Claudio Caniggia after a fine pass from Diego Maradona, then the Albiceleste captain. Five days later, Maradona was thrown out of the tournament by Fifa after failing a drugs test. The game against Nigeria was his 91st and final cap. Today, El Diego returns to the World Cup fold - and he's got unfinished business.

  11. 14:54 Commentary  

    The players are out at Ellis Park in Johannesburg for the fourth (already??) match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, led by their captains Javier Mascherano and Joseph Yobo. I'm too excited for words. Almost.

  12. 14:57 Commentary  

    The Argentina players link up for their national anthem. They look focused, while their fans jubilantly bounce up and down. This is what the World Cup is about. The Nigerians have their right hands on their hearts, looking every bit as much like they mean business.

  13. 14:59 Commentary  

    Warning: if you don't like Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi, this might not be the place to be. Maradona, wearing a dark grey suit, looks like a gangster with his earring and greying beard. It's hard to imagine how much this occasion means to the man.

  14. 15:00 KICK-OFF  

    We are under way at Ellis Park. Hold on to your hats.

  15. 1 min Commentary  

    Lionel Messi jinks past one challenge in his first action of the game, but his ball to Carlos Tevez enables Nigeria to clear their lines.

  16. 3 mins Commentary  

    Chance. Chinedu Obasi easily does Jonas Gutierrez down the Nigeria left and fizzes a left-foot shot past the far post from a tight angle. Gutierrez at right-back - seriously?

  17. 4 mins Commentary  

    There goes Diego, jumping around the touchline - he could have scored that in his sleep. Lionel Messi bursts past three static Nigerian players on the left and passes into the box - but from six yards, Gonzalo Higuain can only side-foot wide. Wasteful.

  18. 6 mins Commentary  

    Wow, what a start. Nigeria give the ball away cheaply in their own half and from 20 yards Lionel Messi curls towards the top corner, only for Vincent Enyeama to tip over.

  19. 6 mins GOAL Argentina 1-0 Nigeria  

    They deserve it, you can't argue with that. Argentina have made a brilliant start and from a corner from their right, former Man Utd defender Gabriel Heinze produces a stunning diving header from the penalty spot into the top corner.

  20. 606  

    From Logos: "Brilliant header from Heinze. Have to say Argentina look pretty good going forward with fluidity that I never saw them play with in qualifying. Messi looks brilliant as ever. Nigeria just look out of their depth."

  21. 10 mins Commentary  

    Argentina have been dominant - but they still look susceptible at the back. Victor Obinna gets into space down the right, but his cross is touched behind by Walter Samuel and the corner comes to nothing.

  22. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Moyes  

    "It looked like zonal marking on the edge of the box from Nigeria and it didn't work at all. Heinze has always been dangerous with headers from set-pieces and I'm surprised they left him with so much space."

  23. 13 mins Commentary  

    Lionel Messi just gave the ball away with a poor first touch. That is all.

  24. 16 mins Commentary  

    Juan Veron plays a sumptuous pass into the path of Lionel Messi, it's a 40-yard cracker, but the ball bounces a bit too high for the Barca man and Vincent Enyeama gathers.

  25. SMS  

    From Gaz: "Is it just me or does Maradona look like a spaghetti western villain?"
    Bang on. Great look for him though, isn't it?

  26. 18 mins Commentary  

    How much must Lionel Messi want a goal to silence the doubters that remain? The little man cuts in from the right, all the time the ball on the most magical left foot seen at a World Cup since that belonging to his current manager, and curls a shot towards the bottom corner that Vincent Enyeama tips away.

  27. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Moyes  

    "I thought I looked nervous on the sidelines at Everton but Maradona looks even worse at the moment!"

  28. 21 mins Commentary  

    Vincent Enyeama is making an early case for goalkeeper of the tournament - he races from his line to make a fine save once more, this time to prevent Gonzalo Higuain's goalbound shot going in. Busy, busy, busy.

  29. Twitter  

    BBC Sport's Phil McNulty: "England fans have definitely arrived in Rustenburg - complete with some opportunist locals. "Earplugs For Sale" signs outside ground."

  30. 23 mins Commentary  

    Vincent Enyeama goes down for a brief moment, but the keeper should be OK to continue. Walter Samuel heads a corner into the ground and over the bar - the Argies could be out of sight by now. If you want a different kind of min-by-min commentary, there's one right here.

  31. 27 mins Commentary  

    Diego Maradona prowls the touchline - he looks like he's itching to get on and showcase his skills. He looks angry - perhaps a touch bemused Argentina aren't leading by more than 1-0.

  32. 28 mins Commentary  

    The Nigerians are getting chances too, though. The ball falls on the left of the area to Chinedu Obasi, but he drags a shot past the far post, much to the annoyance of the Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback.

  33. 606  

    From Blueboyrob: "As fearsome as the Argentina attack is, unless they sort out there defensive frailties they will go nowhere in this tournament. They appear to have no defensive cohesion and will pay the penalty against better teams, if not against Nigeria today."

  34. Contributor BBC Sport's Jonathan Pearce  

    "Some of the people inside this ground right now simply cannot believe they are watching the likes of Lionel Messi with their own eyes, that Diego Maradona is right there in front of them."

  35. 35 mins Commentary  

    The pace of the game has slowed down a touch, which probably suits Nigeria more than it does Argentina. We haven't seen much of flying Benfica winger Angel di Maria so far.

  36. 36 mins Commentary  

    Diego Maradona is furiously remonstrating with a Fifa official. Takes you back, doesn't it? He's been waiting for this moment for the last 16 occasionally troubled years of his life.

  37. 37 mins Commentary  

    Brilliant. Lionel Messi takes a quick free-kick out on the right, plays a one-two, cuts in from the right and forces another wonderful fingertip save from Vincent Enyeama with the ball heading for the top corner. Just fabulous football all round.

  38. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Moyes  

    "The way Argentina play up front is making it very difficult for Nigeria to defend. They just come and go as they please, whether it's Messi, Veron, Tevez or whoever. It's so fluent."

  39. 41 mins YELLOW CARD  

    That's the first booking at Ellis Park, with Newcastle's Jonas Guiterrez showing his inexperience at right-back by bringing down Chinedu Obasi. No complaints.

  40. 43 mins Commentary  

    When he runs at them, they can only stop him by fouling. Lionel Messi jinks past a couple mor challenges before being brought down on the edge of the box. Decent position, this...

  41. 45 mins Commentary  

    After an eternity for the ref to sort the wall out, Juan Veron curls it harmlessly over the crossbar.

  42. 15:46 HALF-TIME Argentina 1-0 Nigeria  
  43. Contributor BBC Sport's Alan Shearer  

    "We've been waiting for the tournament to come to life and that is what we've just seen - Argentina are controlling the game. Though if I was playing for Nigeria, I'd want to attack Jonas Gutierrez because he isn't a right-back."

  44. Twitter  

    From InfostradaLive: "Argentina have led at HT on 24 previous occasions at the World Cup. They have won 23 times and only lost in the 1930 WC final against Uruguay."

  45. Contributor BBC Sport's Gary Lineker  

    "Lionel Messi is one of those players, isn't he, that us neutrals just want to see on the ball all the time."

  46. Contributor BBC Sport's chief football writer Phil McNulty  

    "Rustenburg's media centre is already filling up with only a little less than four hours to go to kick-off between England and the United States. Argentina creating quite a stir with some of their attacking play.

    "The national anthems of both countries have blared out countless times in the stadium to provide a backdrop to the action being watched on screens around this giant tented area.

    "All the mystery of Fabio Capello's line-up will be solved in a couple of hours, with the latest whisper suggesting Robert Green will be in goal. Just a whisper mind you - it's been a bit like the hokey cokey the way England's keepers have been in and out this week."

  47. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Moyes  

    "I really enjoyed that. The first 20 mins was excellent and some of Argentina's play has been wonderful. Nigeria have slowly got themselves back into it but will be happy only going in 1-0 down. They can't get the ball off Messi."

  48. SMS  

    From JP, NP and SL (40 kms from Rustenberg): "On way to Rustenberg currently - excitement mounting. However, am staying in J’burg at same hotel as the President of Nigeria (and his entourage) - and am really hoping that the drinks are on him tonight! Come on Nigeria!"

  49. 16:03 Commentary  

    The second half gets under way in the Argentina 1-0 Nigeria game at Ellis Park. Let the Maradona & Messi show recommence.

  50. Contributor BBC Sport's Alan Shearer  

    "I looked at the French last night and the relationship between the players and their manager was totally different to this, with Maradona and his players. Whatever you say about him, you can tell the Argentines love their boss."

  51. 47 mins Commentary  

    Taye Taiwo whips over a cracking cross from the Nigerian left, but none of his team-mates are attacking the ball and the chance goes begging.

  52. 49 mins Commentary  

    Great movement. Lionel Messi sends the ball wide to the right to Juan Veron and his low cross is met by an onrushing Messi, who can only clip wide of the far post with the outside of his left foot. Top-class give and go.

  53. 52 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Nigeria's zonal marking isn't working. Another corner is floated in from the Argentina right and Walter Samuel heads over. Nigeria make the first change, with Oba Martins on for Victor Obinna.

  54. 606  

    From myerla: "This is proving to be a BIG distraction from revision."

  55. 56 mins Commentary  

    Top drawer football. Deep in the Argentina half, Angel di Maria does really well to keep the ball in play, and he gets them on the counter. Lionel Messi tries to send Gonzalo Higuain clean through, but Joseph Yobo gets in a fabulous sliding challenge to intervene.

  56. 58 mins Commentary  

    Carlos Tevez has ploughed away in his usual heroic manner this afternoon, but he hasn't had a real chance in front of goal so far. Slender lead this for Argentina.

  57. 60 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Lionel Messi goes on another run from right to left, diagonally across the Nigerian backline and into the area, where his left-foot shot is deflected behind. Nigeria make a second change, with Peter Odemwingie on for Chinedu Obasi.

  58. 61 mins Commentary  

    Good direct run from Oba Martins for Nigeria and he tees up Sani Kaita 25 yards out, only for the 24-year-old to blaze well over.

  59. SMS  

    James: "On my way through traffic to Rustenburg. I have some branded ear plugs - ’plug-a-zellas’."

  60. 65 mins Commentary  

    They might yet pay for this profligacy. Argentina defend a Nigeria corner brilliantly and when Carlos Tevez breaks, suddenly they are four against two defenders. Tevez waits and waits and tees up Lionel Messi, but he can only curl a left-foot shot wide from 16 yards. Moments later, Gonzalo Higuain forces another fine save from Vincent Enyeama.

  61. Twitter  

    From ishzz: "It's so fun watching Maradona everytime their boys miss the chance."

  62. 69 mins Commentary  

    Lionel Messi launches a corner to about 22 yards outside the Nigerian box, where Juan Veron spanks a half volley high and wide.

  63. 71 mins Commentary  

    My word that's close. Joseph Yobo sends a pass out to the left to Peter Odemwingie and he tees up Taye Taiwo who hits a daisy-cutting toe-poke from the left-hand corner of the 18-yard box, sending the ball flying inches wide of Sergio Romero's left-hand post.

  64. 73 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Lionel Messi bursts past two Nigerian challenges and is brought down by Peter Odemwingie. Good position - 20 yards out, right of centre. Argentina send on Maxi Rodriguez for Juan Veron, who has played beautifully.

  65. 75 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Lionel Messi curls the free-kick miles over. Must be the Jabulani ball... Nigeria have sent on Kala Uche on for Taye Taiwo, who picked up an injury taking that shot a few moments ago.

  66. 77 mins YELLOW CARD  

    Lukman Haruna is the next man in the book for a late challenge on Lionel Messi. Diego Maradona, one of the most fouled men in World Cup history, is apoplectic with rage at some of the treatment his star player is getting.

  67. 78 mins SUBSTITUTION  

    Oba Martins does really well to get the ball out of his feet and hammer in one of his left-foot rocket specials from 30 yards - and it must be flying all over the place because Sergio Romero uncomfortably punches away. Argentina send on Diego Milito for Gonzalo Higuain - happy birthday to Champions League hero Milito, who is 31 today.

  68. 81 mins Commentary  

    How has Lionel Messi not scored today? He plays a delightful one-two to get clean through on goal and yet again Vincent Enyeama rushes off his line to block the shot.

  69. 82 mins Commentary  

    What a chance to level. Kala Uche starts the move and Yakubu is in space down the Nigerian right - he crosses to the back post, where Uche can only help the ball over the bar with his left foot from 10 yards. Gilt-edged.

  70. 606  

    From Mikaël Silvestre's: "Yakubu has played well, trying to bring the wingers into play. Unfortunately he is the only Nigerian who looks to have any sort of first touch!"

  71. Contributor BBC Radio 5 live's David Moyes  

    "Gonzalo Higuain has had the opportunities and Argentina have a lot of good forwards on the bench - when you get them you're gonna have to take them - they are very strong in the forward positions. I think there is another goal in the game and it could come at either end. Nigeria are causing Argentina problems on the counter-attack. It's like a basketball game at the moment."

  72. 85 mins Commentary  

    Last change for El Diego - Angel di Maria is replaced by Nicolas Burdisso.

  73. 87 mins Commentary  

    Yakubu spanks a left-foot shot narrowly over from fully 20 yards. Is there any late drama to come at Ellis Park in the best game of the World Cup so far?

  74. Contributor BBC Sport's Mick McCarthy  

    "A lot of players are giving the ball away now, some of them look really leg-weary at the moment. It means there are chances, but they look too tired to take them."

  75. 90 mins INJURY TIME  

    Lionel Messi is denied another shot on goal by Sani Kaita after another one-two, this time with Diego Milito. We're into four minutes of stoppage time.

  76. 90 mins Commentary  

    Argentina are just keeping the ball, it's frustrating the life out of Nigeria. Couple more minutes to hold out and Diego Maradona has won his first World Cup game as a coach.

  77. 16:52 FULL-TIME Argentina 1-0 Nigeria  

    El Diego's return to the World Cup fold produces a victory for Argentina and two clenched fists from the 1986 champion. Gabby Heinze's header proves enough - but spare a thought for Nigeria's magnificent goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

  78. Contributor BBC Sport's Jurgen Klinsmann  

    "It was an impressive performance by Argentina, they controlled the game for long periods and could have been 3-0 or 4-0 up by half-time. It was risky, because Nigeria had chances in the second half, but they deserved to win."

  79. Contributor BBC Sport's Alan Shearer  

    "I think we're going to have some fun with Argentina in this World Cup. Their attacking options are incredible, but they will give teams a chance at the back as well."

  80. Twitter  

    From Daily Telegraph's Henry Winter: "No one hugs like Maradona. Great engulfing embraces of staff & players at Argentina win over Nigeria. That jacket will pop some buttons."

  81. Contributor BBC Sport's Emmanuel Adebayor  

    "Messi showed how good he is - every time he got the ball something happened. Maradona has managed to give him the confidence to make sure he plays like he does for Barcelona and he looked like he really enjoyed it."

  82. 17:05 Commentary  

    Time for me to go. But fear not, Sam Lyon's already started live text commentary of the build-up to England v USA! Seamless, isn't it? I'll see you in a little while.

By Phil Dawkes

Argentina got their 2010 World Cup campaign off to a winning start and silenced some of their doubters with a dominant performance against Nigeria in Johannesburg.

While not quite the sum of their supremely talented parts, Diego Maradona's side were able to capitalise on the space fatally afforded them by their opponents to register a well-deserved victory, secured through a headed goal from Gabriel Heinze.

Nigeria had their chances, primarily down the left where makeshift Argentine right-back Jonas Gutierrez was often exposed, but forward Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi was wasteful.

A vociferous Ellis Park crowd showed their appreciation for the entertainment on show, particularly that provided by Argentine forward Lionel Messi, who was the standout performer, creating opportunities for others and on a number of occasions drawing superb saves from impressive Super Eagles keeper Vincent Enyeama.

South Korea's comfortable 2-0 win over Greece in Group B's other fixture on Saturday means the winner of next Thursday's match between them and Argentina will be in pole position to qualify for the last 16.

Such an outcome would represent an extremely satisfying stride forward for an Argentina side who have polarised opinion in the build up to this tournament between those who identify them as challengers because of the sheer abundance of talent in their ranks and those who hark back to a turbulent qualifying campaign and the perceived flaws in coach Maradona as reasons to write them off.

While Maradona remained a lively source of fascination on the touchlines, his heir apparent, and the man predicted by many to stamp his authority on this World Cup as his iconic coach did in Mexico in 1986, Barcelona's Fifa World Player of the Year Messi, was a magnetic focal point on the pitch.

Operating in a front three alongside Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City - a trio that has scored 105 club goals between them this season - Messi produced a performance befitting of his billing.

Twice in the first 20 minutes Messi ran at the Nigeria defence and provided scoring opportunities for Higuain, but the first the Real Madrid striker put past the near post from three yards out and then saw his angled drive from further out blocked by Enyeama.

Sandwiched between these two chances Argentina took the lead. Tevez's superb curling shot wad tipped over by Enyeama for a corner, from which Juan Sebastian Veron provided the cross for Heinze to dive in unmarked and head home.

The South Americans remained the more likely to score, but they were either wasteful or unable to beat Enyeama, who kept his side as a credible threat in the match with further impressive saves from Higuain and Messi.

Nigeria's preparations for this tournament have been far from ideal, with Swede Lars Lagerback effectively given only three weeks to prepare his squad for the tournament after replacing Shaibu Amodu as coach and star midfielder John Mikel Obi ruled out with a knee injury but they remained committed to the cause throughout.

Had Obasi been better able to capitalise on the poor positional play of Gutierrez with greater accuracy in his shooting in the first half, Taye Taiwo's toe-poke shot been a foot to the left, or had substitute Kala Uche shown greater composure when unmarked to keep his shot under the bar late on the Africans could have salvaged what would have been an undeserved draw.

There was still time in the final few minutes for Messi to slightly blot his copybook by allowing Enyeama to save from six yards when he should have scored but it is harsh to take away from what was a superb display from the forward and an encouraging victory for Maradona's men.

Argentina Argentina Flag 1-0 Nigeria Flag Nigeria FT

(HT 1-0)

Heinze, 6






  • Venue: Ellis Park
  • Referee: Stark
  • Attendance: 50,389
Argentina     Nigeria
  • Possession 59%
  • Attempts on target 10
  • Attempts off target 9
  • Corners 10
  • Fouls 6

Projected table based on current scores

Group A

Group A teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Uruguay 3 2 1 0 4 0 4 7
Mexico 3 1 1 1 3 2 1 4
South Africa 3 1 1 1 3 5 -2 4
France 3 0 1 2 1 4 -3 1

Group B

Group B teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Argentina 3 3 0 0 7 1 6 9
South Korea 3 1 1 1 5 6 -1 4
Greece 3 1 0 2 2 5 -3 3
Nigeria 3 0 1 2 3 5 -2 1

Group C

Group C teams P W D L F A GD PTS
USA 3 1 2 0 4 3 1 5
England 3 1 2 0 2 1 1 5
Slovenia 3 1 1 1 3 3 0 4
Algeria 3 0 1 2 0 2 -2 1

Group D

Group D teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Germany 3 2 0 1 5 1 4 6
Ghana 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
Australia 3 1 1 1 3 6 -3 4
Serbia 3 1 0 2 2 3 -1 3

Group E

Group E teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Netherlands 3 3 0 0 5 1 4 9
Japan 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 6
Denmark 3 1 0 2 3 6 -3 3
Cameroon 3 0 0 3 2 5 -3 0

Group F

Group F teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Paraguay 3 1 2 0 3 1 2 5
Slovakia 3 1 1 1 4 5 -1 4
New Zealand 3 0 3 0 2 2 0 3
Italy 3 0 2 1 4 5 -1 2

Group G

Group G teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Brazil 3 2 1 0 5 2 3 7
Portugal 3 1 2 0 7 0 7 5
Ivory Coast 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
North Korea 3 0 0 3 1 12 -11 0

Group H

Group H teams P W D L F A GD PTS
Spain 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 6
Chile 3 2 0 1 3 2 1 6
Switzerland 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 4
Honduras 3 0 1 2 0 3 -3 1

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