Argentina edges Nigeria 1-0 in World Cup

07:57, June 13, 2010      

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Lionel Messi of Argentina (C) fights for the ball with Lukman Haruna during their group B first round match at the 2010 FIFA World Cup at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 12, 2010. (Xinhua/Xu Suhui)

Diego Maradona won his World Cup debut as a coach as Argentina secured a 1-0 victory over Nigeria on Gabriel Heinze's goal on Saturday.

Six minutes into action, Marseille defender Heinze sprinted away from his marker to head home a corner, sending Argentina fans in Ellis Park Stadium wild.

Argentine star Lionel Messi was brilliant as he cut inside from the right and forced a save by Nigeria keeper Vincent Enyeama at the 18th minute.

At the 37th minute, Messi cut in from the right and forced another wonderful fingertip save from Enyeama with the ball heading for the top corner.

The Nigerians had chances too. One good chance came at the 28th minute when the ball fell on the left of the area to Chinedu Obasi, but he sent a shot past the far post, much to the disappointment of Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback.

Maradona prowled the touchline like a lion and he was seen furiously remonstrating with a FIFA official at a time.

In-form Messi continued to shine after the break, easily piercing Nigeria's defense but coming short of scoring.

Four minutes into the second half, the Barcelona forward sent the ball to the right to Juan Veron who crossed back to an onrushing Messi. Messi clipped wide of the far post with the his left foot.

At the 64th minute, Messi shot narrowly out of the left post.

Nigeria had a wonderful opportunity to make it even but Taya Taiwo's blast narrowly missed the target at the 70th minute.

Then at the 78th minute, Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins hammered from 25 meters away and forced a punch-away save from Argentine keeper Sergio Romero.

It was Maradona's first World Cup meeting with the Nigerians in 14 years. He won the last of his 91 caps against Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup. He subsequently failed a doping test and was sent home from the tournament.

Nigeria coach Lagerback said he was "proud of his players" but admitted he was "disappointed by the result".

The Swede said a lapse of concentration cost Nigeria dearly, referring to Argentina's goal.

"If you lose concentration, you will be punished. We were punished this time," he said.
Special Report: World Cup 2010

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