Ibaraki Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan

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  • Gabriel Batistuta 63'

1 - 0


  • 92'

    An excellent performance from the Argentinians - probably the most impressive team in the tournament so far. Veron and Ortega were dominant, and Batistuta showed he can still score.

  • 92'

    And that's the final whistle. A winning start for Argentina, and a merited win.

  • 92'

    Okocha tries for the equaliser but Cavallero blocks

  • 92'

    And Shoronmu denies Gonzalez again, from 25 yards

  • 91'

    And Shoronmu makes another great block. Corner

  • 91'

    Oretga finds Crespo, who lays it into the path of Kily Gonzalez...

  • 90'

    But not by Simeone on Christopher. Yellow card

  • 89'

    Nigeria are struggling to get out of their own half - good defending from the Argentine forwards

  • 87'

    There's a real scramble in the Nigerian box but Sorin can't get a shot in. West again defends well, but it's noticeable how often the left-sided midfielder gets into goalscoring positions.

  • 87'

    Kily Gonzalez lets fly from 30 yards but West blocks

  • 86'

    Offside, but Lawal's header goes into the side-netting. More hesitant keeping from Cavallero - is he the weak link in the Argentine team?

  • 85'

    But that's a better effort. Crespo cuts in from the left, goes for the curler into the opposite corner but it's a bit too high

  • 84'

    Zanetti crosses and Crespo heads wide. A tame effort from the £36million man

  • 84'

    Aimar earns another free kick - Nigeria are clearly keen to stop him having the ball

  • 83'

    Ogbeche meets it, but that's a very high header

  • 83'

    Lawal will deliver...

  • 83'

    Yobo crosses and a strange interception from Simeone means it's a corner

  • 82'

    Nigeria are more ambitious now - and Lawal puts in another cross which is cleared

  • 80'

    Crespo's coming on - and it's the goalscorer Batistuta who departs

  • 80'

    Cavallero was in no man's land there

  • 79'

    But Nigeria counter and Aghahowa heads wide from Lawal's cross

  • 79'

    What a shot. He got real power on that and the diving Shoronmu did well to block

  • 79'

    Batistuta's eyeing it up but it's a long way out...

  • 78'

    The veteran Simeone dons the armband. Presumably Aimar will take up the free role behind the front three. He starts by winning a free kick.

  • 78'

    Argentina change - and it's Pablo Aimar coming on. Not a bad sub, and he replaces the impressive Veron.

  • 76'

    More Nigeria pressure - maybe Okocha and Aghahowa have finally woken up

  • 76'

    Aghahowa almost bundles his way through and Zanetti clears well from Lawal

  • 75'

    Okocha shoots high and wide, but the move came from an Ikedia cross and Lawal's pass

  • 74'

    Ikedia's got the ball again - the Ajax youngster may be Nigeria's best hope of an equaliser

  • 74'

    And the Crewe man is immediately subbed - on comes Royal Antwerp's Justice Christopher

  • 73'

    Sodje is booked for a poor tackle on Placente

  • 73'

    But first Ikedia goes on a run and almost sets uo Aghahowa

  • 72'

    Twenty minutes to go and Argentina are looking to make a second change

  • 72'

    Veron almost plays Sorin in - more terrific play from Argentina's acting captain

  • 70'

    But now Lawal's in space, but Sorin clears his cross

  • 69'

    Nigeria are happy to clear the ball now, but it keeps coming straight back at them

  • 68'

    Veron shoots, but it's a comfortable save

  • 68'

    At least they have Sodje back, but Argentina win yet another free kick

  • 67'

    And it's Batistuta again, but he can't get over the ball. He's met four corners at the far post now - surely Nigeria must spot the plan soon?

  • 67'

    It's another corner from the left...

  • 66'

    Shoronmu tips it over - was it really a shot?

  • 65'

    Sodje's being carried off on a stretcher as the free kick is delayed

  • 65'

    But Argentina have another free kick in a dangerous position

  • 64'

    How can Nigeria respond? They'll have to be more attacking.

  • 63'

    A superb finish from an acute angle - his 10th World Cup goal. Batigol strikes again

  • 63'

    It's Batistuta at the back post to head Veron's in-swinging corner down and in

  • 63'


  • 63'

    But it's deflected over for a corner

  • 63'

    Veron takes...

  • 62'

    Sorin earns Argentina another dangerous free kick

  • 61'

    That was excellent play by Ortega to set up the chance

  • 60'

    And Nigeria get the corner clear

  • 60'

    He chests it down and fires the half-volley but Shoronmu tips it over

  • 59'

    Ortega picks out Sorin..

  • 56'

    Veron's corner and Pochettino heads across the face of goal. Close

  • 55'

    Crucial challenge from Okoronkwo as Veron threatened to shoot

  • 54'

    A much better second half so far - Argentina are stepping up the tempo

  • 53'

    Sodje's in high and late on Kily Gonzalez - perhaps lucky not to be booked

  • 53'

    Veron releases Ortega and he's clear... only to be ruled offside

  • 52'

    He drills it into the the wall and Argentina clear

  • 51'

    And Sorin gives Nigeria a free kick in a similar position at the other end. This could be Okocha territory...

  • 51'

    But Batistuta blasts it. He was aiming for the top corner, but it's just too high

  • 50'

    And now they have a free kick on the edge of the box. Veron might like this...

  • 50'

    For all their footballing ability, Argentina have come closest from set pieces

  • 49'

    And now Sorin misses from close range. Veron crosses, Sorin rises well but heads wide

  • 49'

    Argentina attack again and Shornmu concedes another corner

  • 48'

    Ikedia is on for Kanu. It looks like Okoccha's moved into the centre of midfield

  • 48'

    How did that go wide? He prodded it just past the post

  • 48'

    Veron takes and again he finds unmarked Batistuta at the back post

  • 47'

    Meanwhile Nigeria have to defend a corner won by Sorin

  • 47'

    Kanu's limping off already as Pius Ikedia prepares to replace him

  • 46'

    Batistuta starts the second half as Argentina look to press home their advantage - but will Nigeria be as defensive?

  • 46'

    Substitution for Argentina. Valencia's Kily Gonzalez is on for Claudio Lopez on the left flank.

  • 45'

    Half time. Nigeria will probably be happier with the scoreline - but will they commit more men forward for the second half? Argentina have played well, but they haven't had enough chances.

  • 45'

    Ortega's seen plenty of it, but he still can't find a way through.

  • 45'

    A rare run for Ogbeche, but it ends in a goal kick. He and Aghahowa will hope to see more of the ball in the second half

  • 45'

    He's back on now and there's two minutes of injury time to be played

  • 44'

    Pochettino's down now - possibly a clash of heads

  • 43'

    It's too long for everyone and Nigeria are still holding on to their point

  • 43'

    Ortega's cross wins another corner. A final chance of the half?

  • 42'

    Placente takes the chance to get forward now but once again there are plenty of Nigerians behind the ball

  • 40'

    Argentina build from their own half again but it comes to nothing

  • 38'

    Aghahowa goes for the spectacular with an overhead kick - it's well wide though

  • 38'

    That was as close as Argentina have come - and Batistuta's obviously disappointed he didn't score

  • 37'

    It's Veron to take and Batistuta leaps superbly at the far post to meet it, but he can't head it down and in

  • 36'

    Sorin's cross is blocked - it's a corner.

  • 35'

    Sorin whips in another ball from the left. It's just too near the keeper, though

  • 34'

    Sorin finds Ortega in the box, but again he's crowded out

  • 33'

    But only as far as Yobo who shoots left-footed, but it's just wide

  • 32'

    Batistuta clears the corner

  • 31'

    Okocha almost scores a superb goal. He beats two and shoots from distance. The diving Cavallero tips over

  • 30'

    But Veron can't pick out a team mate

  • 29'

    Ortega lets fly from 25 yards on the half volley but Shoronmu is equal to it and tips it over

  • 28'

    But it's still been an impressive first half hour from Bielsa's side - they are very comfortable in possession and have plenty of movement, especially from wingers Lopez and Ortega

  • 27'

    Shoronmu gathers Sorin's high cross as clear-cut chances elude Argentina

  • 26'

    Yobo goes on a solo run, but Veron robs him and he brings down Zanetti

  • 25'

    But Lawal whips in a low cross, just too far in front of Ogbeche. Cavallero gathers, but it's still Nigeria's best moment to date

  • 24'

    Aghahowa is quicker, however, and he robs Ortega but once again Nigeria can't keep the ball

  • 23'

    Kanu's struggling as he strolls round the centre cirlce

  • 21'

    Shoronmu is out quickly to kick away from Batistuta after a brilliant passing move involving Veron, Lopez and Batisuta, who beat Okoronkwo well.

  • 20'

    A needless foul by Pochettino on Aghahowa and there's some respite for Nigeria

  • 18'

    A terrible goal kick, Batistuta picks it up and fires and effort from distance but Shorunwu holds on

  • 18'

    Zanetti has a crack from 40 yards it's safely over

  • 18'

    Sorin and then Veron whip in crosses but Nigeria are defending doggedly.

  • 18'

    A rare bad ball by Veron and Nigeria have a goal kick

  • 17'

    Lopez puts in a dangerous cross now, but again Nigeria scramble it away.

  • 16'

    Ortega earns another freekick and twists to find Batistuta , but he's denied a shooting chance

  • 15'

    Argentina are putting Nigeria under pressuer and the Nigerians are struggling to keep the ball.

  • 14'

    Argentina have made the better start and Veron is already belying his poor club form to dominate.

  • 14'

    ... but that's headed away easily.

  • 13'

    Veron will take, and it goes off for a corner.

  • 13'

    Veron is clattered by Lawal. When Ortega is, too, a free kick is given

  • 12'

    And he's immediately involved with a clever backheel to find Babayaro, whose cross is cleared

  • 11'

    Kanu limps back on and resumes his central midfield role

  • 10'

    A brief pause as Kanu receives treatment

  • 10'

    He picked out Ortega, who is having a lively battle with Babayaro on the Argentine right

  • 10'

    Another Argentina attack and again it's started by a brilliant ball from Veron

  • 9'

    It's wide, but he's scored similar goals before and it's been a lively start from the Argentina number 9

  • 8'

    Veron finds Batistuta again and he goes for the spectacular, a 35-yard half volley

  • 7'

    But both Claudio Lopez and Ortega are blocked as they go to shoot

  • 6'

    Veron picks out Batistuta with a fine ball. The striker crosses...

  • 6'

    Ortega twists and turns and knocks in a cross with the outside of his foot but it is cleared

  • 5'

    ... which Sodje meets with a spectacular volley way over

  • 4'

    Babayaro crosses and Placente puts it behind for a corner...

  • 3'

    Ogbeche has an early run for Nigeria and Okocha earns a free kick, which he takes quickly

  • 2'

    There's been a late change to the Argentina team - Bayer Leverkusen's Placente is in on the left of the back three, Roberto Ayala out.

  • 2'

    And Batistuta almost reaches a cross from Lopez - Argentina are looking dangerous down the left

  • 1'

    Sorin makes an early break for Argentina but his cross is too high for Batistuta

  • 1'

    Nigeria kick off and immediately concede a throw


    Can Argentina live up to their billing as favourites or will Nigeria be another African side to spring a shock?

Goal Shot Video
  • Shots (on goal)

  • tackles

  • Fouls

  • possession

  • Argentina

  • 18(9)

  • -

  • 14

  • 0%


  • Nigeria

  • 7(2)

  • -

  • 19

Match Stats

  • Argentina
  • Nigeria
18(9) Shots (on goal) 7(2)
14 Fouls 19
11 Corner kicks 3
1 Offsides 3
0% Time of Possession 0%
2 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
2 Saves 8

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