Argentina player ratings v Nigeria: City full-back brilliant

Pablo Zabaleta Giant Flag

Pablo Zabaleta played superb at right-back for La Albiceleste as two goals from Lionel Messi helped the South Americans to a 3-2 win over Nigeria.

Messi's brace against Nigeria has took him to four goals from three matches as the Argentine captain helps his country to a 3-2 win over Nigeria, who also qualify. 

The Barcelona striker opened the scoring after three minutes, before Ahmed Musa equalised less than a minute later with a curling effort into the far corner. Messi ensured Argentina went into half time in front after scoring a free kick into the top corner, giving Vincent Enyeama no chance. 

The second half started the same as the first with early goals, this time it was Nigeria to score earliest. Musa again scoring a great individual goal with his right foot, but their joy was short lived as Marcos Rojo headed in a corner after 50 minutes, and maintain their 100% winning record in the tournament. 

Here are the player ratings for Argentina:

Sergio Romero - 6

Conceded two goals that he will feel disappointed about, he was able to get a hand to Musa's first goal but unable to push it away before falling for his dummy in the second half.

Pablo Zabaleta - 8

Was brilliant for Argentina, made a crucial block in the second half when it looked like Musa could have scored his hat-trick. Great energy throughout. 

Ezequiel Garay - 7

Looked better in this match than he did against Iran. Made a good tackle from Emenike in the first half as the striker found himself in the first half, what he did he did well.

Federico Fernandez - 6

The Napoli defender fails to look comfortable when defending, awkward moment in the second half when he let the ball run across his body when six yards away from goal. Will be targeted by the opposition in the knockout rounds.

Marcos Rojo - 7

Scored the winning header from close range, didn't get as forward as he would have liked but was forced to defend. Did well in that area.

Javier Mascherano - 7

The Barcelona midfielder failed to get his foot on the ball too much and play expansive attacking passes, still reliant as ever when defending though.

Fernando Gago - 7

Looked lost at times as the Nigeria midfield outnumbered Argentina in the central area, but when he got on the ball played incisive passes forward.

Angel Di Maria - 6

Missed a good chance in the first half that led to Messi's first goal, missed a second chance later on when through on goal that was easily saved by Enyeama. Will need to improve as the rounds progress.

Gonzalo Higuain - 7

Missed a good chance in the first half after a good pass by Messi, but made plenty of other good runs with the ball down the side of the Nigerian defence. Finding form for the knockout rounds.

Lionel Messi (c) - 8

Outstanding. Scored his first goal from close range, scored his second goal that was a brilliant free kick from distance. Other than that nearly scored with a second free kick that was heading for the top corner but for a great save, created chances for others, subbed off after an hour. If he carries on in his form, Argentina will be difficult to stop.

Sergio Aguero - 7

Taken off after 38 minutes with what looked like a thigh injury, has had problems with his fitness all season and will be desperate to make a quick recovery. The City striker's movement was sharp when he was on the pitch, and will be a big loss if he is to miss the rest of the tournament.

Subs:

Ezequiel Lavezzi - 7 

Replaced Aguero after 38 minutes, made strong runs with the ball and assisted Rojo's header with a brilliant corner. Good performance.

Ricardo Alvarez - 7 

Come on for Messi after 68 minutes, the Inter player held the ball up well as the South Americans looked to kill time in the latter stages.

Lucas Biglia - N/A

Replaced Gonzalo Higuain after 91 minutes. 

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch