Argentina beats Nigeria 3-1 in friendly

Argentina beats Nigeria 3-1 in friendly

Published Sep. 6, 2011 7:06 p.m. ET

Captain Lionel Messi set up two goals and Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain scored twice to inspire Argentina to a 3-1 friendly win over Nigeria Tuesday at Dhaka's Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Messi provided a perfect one-touch pass in the 24th minute for Higuain to control the ball and shoot right-footed into the corner past Nigeria goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba.

Two minutes later, Messi won the ball on the halfway line before beating three defenders in a slaloming run into the penalty area. His shot was saved by Aiyenugba but Angel Di Maria was on hand to tap in the rebound.

Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi pulled the ball back from the byline for substitute Chinedu Obasi to shoot high into the net just after halftime to give the African side hope.


But Higuain wrapped up the win with his second goal in the 65th, picking up Di Maria's pass and scoring at the second attempt after Aiyenugba saved the first.

Messi's performance drew the admiration of a crowd of more than 20,000 in the Bangladesh capital - as well as both coaches.

''Is there any doubt really?'' Nigeria coach Samson Siasia said. ''It was impossible to contain Messi.''

Alejandro Sabella took over as Argentina coach in August after the team went out of the Copa America to Uruguay in the quarterfinals. He immediately appointed Messi as captain and said he planned to build the team around the Barcelona forward.

Since then, Messi has produced two match-winning performances in the 1-0 friendly win over Venezuela in Delhi, and now against Nigeria, although he still hasn't translated his goalscoring form for Barcelona onto the international stage.

''No matter if Messi scores or not, as long as he is playing well everyone is happy,'' Sabella said.