ST PETERSBURG, Russia, June 26 (Reuters) - A relieved Lionel Messi said on Tuesday he had not expected to suffer so much against Nigeria, but that he and his Argentina team mates were always confident about winning the crucial World Cup clash that secured them a place in the last 16.
The Barcelona forward opened the scoring with a fine goal in the dramatic 2-1 win over Nigeria that sent the South Americans through to the knockout stages behind Croatia in Group D.
“We already knew we were going to win, we were confident that God would help us, that all would turn out well. But we did not expect the complication of the draw, of suffering so much. But what’s important is that we went through,” Messi told Argentine media.
The Barcelona forward, who turned 31 this week, said Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Iceland on Friday had been a boon for his side.
“Without a doubt, we knew that an opportunity had fallen from the sky after the two games we had not been able to win and we knew we could not let this one escape,” he said.
Asked how he felt personally, Messi replied: “I’m good. I’m very happy. It would have been very painful to have been eliminated in the first round.” (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer. Editing by Christian Radnedge)