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Messi magic brings up World Cup century as Argentina star breaks goal drought

19:41 BST 26/06/2018
Lionel Messi Argentina Nigeria World Cup 260618
The Barcelona superstar helped the Albiceleste to get off to the perfect start in a meeting with Nigeria, recording the 100th effort of Russia 2018

Lionel Messi ended his World Cup goal drought in style for Argentina, with the mercurial Barcelona forward recording the 100th effort of Russia 2018.

Having cut a frustrated figure for the Albiceleste in their opening two Group D fixtures, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner rediscovered his spark in a meeting with Nigeria.

Jorge Sampaoli’s side needed inspiration from somewhere, having gone into the game with just one point to their name, and saw their talismanic No. 10 duly deliver.

There were just 14 minutes on the clock when Messi collected a floated pass over the top of the Nigerian defence from Ever Banega.

A perfectly-timed run was followed by two deft touches which worked the ball onto his less favoured right foot.

With a clear sight of the target there was only likely to be one outcome, and Messi crashed home the opening goal of a must-win contest for Argentina.

In doing so, the 31-year-old took the total number of goals at the finals to 100.

He also got himself off the mark at an event which has seen eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo already notch four times for Portugal.

Messi needed a goal as much for his own confidence as he did for Argentina’s.

He has not always had the rub of the green when representing his country, with international heartache having been all too frequent.

The Golden Ball was secured at the 2014 World Cup, but final heartbreak was suffered and Messi failed to find the target in any of his outings at the knockout stage.

Ironically, his last goal of that competition came against Nigeria in the final round of group stage fixtures.

In addition, Messi's goal also ensured he became the first player to score in a World Cup finals as a teenager, in his 20s and 30s.

With a goal-laden World Cup having produced plenty of excitement so far, there is the promise of plenty more to come as attention starts to shift towards the last 16 and the pursuit of the ultimate crown.