Lionel Messi stuns reporter, wins hearts with 'good luck charm' gesture

Lionel Messi-led Argentina's struggles in Russia come after their pre-tournament preparations were wrecked by controversy and poor form coupled with a reliance on a top-heavy limited squad

Argentina lucky to get this far; to go further it must do much, much better

Argentina talisman Lionel Messi stunned a journalist in the aftermath of La Albiceleste's win over Nigeria on Tuesday by showing that he was still wearing a good luck charm that the Barcelona star was gifted on matchday one at the World Cup.

Much has been made of the footage of the discussion before Sampaoli brought on striker Sergio Aguero as a substitute during the 2-1 win over Nigeria that secured Argentina's passage to the last 16.

Victory sent Argentina into the knockout stages at the expense of their opponents and the manner in which they achieved it, scoring a late victor when all looked lost, offered a much-needed boost after the struggles in their first two games.

Marcos Rojo scored a brilliant late volley to send Argentina through to the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup with a dramatic victory over Nigeria in St. Petersburg.

Denmark could have only been denied qualification had they lost to France and had Australia beaten Peru in the match being simultaneously played in Sochi.

The unbalanced nature of the knockout phase sparked debate ahead of Thursday's England-Belgium group match - was it better to win and enter the tougher side of the draw or lose and face potentially easier fixtures down the line?

Lionel Messi gives Argentina the lead. "We will try to dominate the match by having possession of the ball".

"My mum told me to give you this", the reporter said.

The former Chile and Sevilla coach survived, but still there are suggestions he will not be allowed to retain his post after the World Cup.

"The players who helped write the history of football have a part to play", Smith said. Coach Fernando Santos will know his side will need to be well drilled this week, if they are to beat a Uruguay side who has so far won every game of their World Cup campaign. "After that, they get a lot of goals within three or four touches".

"Now we can focus on preparations for the knockout stage", said Badelj. "We had several options in attack and I was just communicating to him that we'd be using one of the strategies that we'd rehearsed".

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