Sampaoli attributes win to fighting spirit

Jorge Sampaoli felt that the win over Nigeria will hold his side in good spirits after qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Argentina manager Jorge Sampoli during the match against Nigeria.   -  AFP

Argentina scraped through in its do-or-die match against Nigeria at the St. Petersburg Stadium here on Tuesday to reach the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup.

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An 86th minute winner from Marcos Rojo gave it a 2-1 win which sent coach Jorge Sampaoli on a joyous run. Speaking to the media after the win, he said, "When Leo came and hugged me I felt very proud and happy because he knows I am very passionate. I have shared a lot of great moments and he knows that we have this common dream to do something special in Russia."

Sampaoli made five changes to the side which was humbled 3-0 by Croatia four nights ago. Argentina took an early lead through Lionel Messi's right-footed finish, before a Victor Moses penalty put Nigeria in charge of its destiny once again. "The first half went well and we were better than Nigeria and had more ball possession and moved forward well. We got a bit nervous after the penalty but we are happy. My players play with heart and this win will hold them in good spirits," he said.

The 58-year-old added, "This victory arises from the fact that the players were convinced and knew that they are excellent and they are here at the World Cup to show it. Fortunately today, we had the fight and spirit till the very end. We made many changes, trying to create opportunities, but what mattered most was the courage of the boys."

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Sampaoli changed the 3-5-2 formation in favour of a 4-2-3-1 with Gonzalo Higuain coming in for Sergio Aguero. "We played with three midfielders and Leo on the right to create more passes and Enzo (Perez), (Angel) Di Maria and Leo did that admirably in the first half. Everyone who trains Leo knows that everyone surrounding him need to make him feel secured. Everybody needs to pass the ball, we have the best player in the world and the rest of the players need to benefit from that," he explained.

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