Argentina squeezed into the last 16 of the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Nigeria on Tuesday night – and pundit Rio Ferdinand has told BBC's coverage of the game that he was impressed with midfielder Ever Banega.
Jorge Sampaoli's men were in tatters after a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Croatia last week, and needed a major turnaround in order to advance from Group D and make it to the knockout stages.
Lionel Messi's superb touch and right-footed finish put Argentina in front in Saint Petersburg, before Javier Mascherano gave away a second half penalty, allowing Victor Moses to score past debutant Franco Armani.
Defender Marcos Rojo then became the hero, popping up with an instinctive right-footed finish to send Argentina through at Nigeria's expense, sparking wild scenes from Argentinians inside the stadium; players, fans, staff, and even Diego Maradona.
A last 16 clash with France has been set up, but Argentina must still improve in order to make a real impression on the competition, with Messi needing much, much more help in a disjointed Argentina side.
Midfielder Ever Banega provided a great link up with Messi, spraying an inch-perfect pass for Messi's opener whilst controlling possession with his passing ability and creativity in the middle of the pitch.
In the build-up to the game, Estadio Deportivo reported that Arsenal are keen to sign Banega, with new Gunners boss Unai Emery keen to reunite with the Sevilla ace, potentially activating his €20million (£17.5million) release clause.
Banega may have impressed many Arsenal fans with his display, and at half time of Tuesday's game, pundit Rio Ferdinand hailed him, claiming that he dictated the game and played a 'killer' pass for the opening goal of the game in a glowing review of his display.
“The way that he has dictated this game completely, he’s the instigator of any of the good moves that come from this Argentina team,” said Ferdinand. “His first thought once he gets it is ‘who can I play forward?’. In forward areas, you have to take risks, and they know that he’s on the pitch, and [his pass for Messi’s goal] is a killer for any defender on the pitch,” he added.
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