Nigeria Shock Argentina, Claim 4-2 Win in International Friendly

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2017

Argentina's Cristian Pavon (L) and Nigeria's Alexander Iwobi vie for the ball during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

Nigeria defeated Argentina 4-2 in an international friendly in Russia on Tuesday, as the nations prepare for action at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 

Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero gave Argentina a two-goal lead after 36 minutes, but Kelechi Iheanacho struck back on the stroke of half-time at the Krasnodar Stadium.

Nigeria were on level terms seven minutes into the second half, with Alex Iwobi netting for the Super Eagles, and they took a shock 3-2 lead just two minutes later through Brian Idowu.

Argentina's problems were compounded after 73 minutes. Iwobi grabbed his brace as the scoreline ended in embarrassment for the South American giants, despite the defeated side dominating possession.

Argentina were missing Lionel Messi, who departed the squad before the match, with La Albiceleste providing their selection for the friendly: 

Leicester City's Iheanacho led the attack for Nigeria, as the Super Eagles provided footage of the sides as they lined up for the opening whistle:

Argentina maintained control through the opening phases, playing with confidence as they retained possession.

However, Nigeria sat deep on the counter-attack and were prepared to concede territory as they focused on using pace.

It was the Argentinians who took the lead after 27 minutes, with Banega curling his free-kick home with skill and composure.

La Albiceleste doubled their advantage nine minutes later, as Nigeria allowed Aguero time and space in the box to tap home the second.

Nigeria's Ahmed Musa (L) and Argentina's Diego Perotti vie for the ball during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN A
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

Argentina maintained a gear their opponents could not match, and the Nigerian defence struggled to hold their position and poise.

However, the Super Eagles carved out a lifeline in the dying embers of the first half as another direct free-kick hit the back of the net.

This time it was Iheanacho with the deadly instinct, making it 2-1 at the interval with a tremendous finish.

Aguero was substituted at half-time as Argentina shuffled the pack, but it was Nigeria who grabbed the impetus to level the match.

Nigeria's John Obi Mikel, Argentina's German Pezzella and Argentina's Enzo Perez vie for the ball during an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV        (Photo c
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

Idowu was the hero, sliding his strike into the bottom corner, triggering a remarkable collapse for the South Americans after 52 minutes.

Argentina had no time to shake off the cobwebs and were 3-2 down just two minutes later, with Iheanacho once again at the heart of Nigeria's play.

Brian Idowu combined with Iheanacho to score his country's third of the night, as Argentina's defence appeared dumbstruck by the unfolding events.

As the Argentinians attempted to regain composure without Aguero on the pitch, Nigeria went for the throat, and their tactics once again gave them success through Iwobi's magic.

Nigeria's players celebrate after an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

The Arsenal player beat three defenders as he fired home, and the Argentina players were lame and beaten.

It was a great night for the Gunners attacker, proving his quality on the international stage at the expense of a world giant.

Nigeria head into Russia 2018 in great spirits, but it's back to the drawing board for the South Americans who clearly lack inspiration and leadership without Messi in their ranks.