SAINT PETERSBURG: A relieved Lionel Messi believes Argentina deserve their place in the last 16 of the World Cup after being saved by Marcos Rojo's late winner against Nigeria as they avoided an embarrassing group-stage exit.
Messi opened the scoring in Saint Petersburg with his first goal of the tournament, but Victor Moses's early second-half penalty made it another nervous night in Russia for the five-time world player of the year and under-fire coach Jorge Sampaoli before Rojo's late intervention.
"It is marvellous to have won it in this manner. It is a deserved joy," Messi said in quotes published by Argentina's official Twitter account.
"We knew God was with us and wasn't going to let us go out.
"I thank all the fans that are here, for all their sacrifice and to all those in Argentina that were always with us. The shirt of the national team is above all else."
Argentina will need a vast improvement if they are to progress any further as they face highly fancied France in the last 16 on Saturday.