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Messi relieved after Nigeria struggle

Lionel Messi  relieved after Nigeria struggle

Lionel Messi expressed 'huge relief' after Argentina advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup thanks to Marcos Rojo's late winner against Nigeria.

The two-time world champions were facing elimination when the Manchester United defender volleyed home Gabriel Mercado's cross with five minutes left to seal a 2-1 victory in the Group D decider.

Victor Moses' penalty had earlier cancelled out Messi's sublime opener.

Rojo's goal saw Argentina scrape into the last 16, where they will face France, something Messi said was a huge relief.

"We have suffered a lot because it was a difficult situation," Messi said after the match. "There was a lot at stake and of course it was a huge relief for all of us.

"It was a difficult match because of the results before and many other things that have been said. We knew it was going to be difficult but fortunately we have achieved our aim.

"We didn't think that we were going to suffer as much as we have. We were quite confident that we would be able to go through and fortunately it became true."

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli, meanwhile, was full of praise for Messi, who had come under fire following a poor start to the tournament.

"The most important thing for Leo, I think, is his human side; it's amazing," he said.

"He's a person who feels, who cries, who suffers, who's happy when Argentina wins. I know him. I've seen him happy, sad, in crisis times, in positive times.

"Many people say that Leo does not enjoy playing for Argentina but I don't agree. He enjoys it and suffers like all the other players. That makes him even bigger."