Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli praised the "amazing" Lionel Messi, saying the star had shown he enjoyed playing for his nation.
Messi finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, opening the scoring as Argentina reached the last 16 with a thrilling 2-1 win over Nigeria on Tuesday .
While Messi's classy opener was cancelled out by a Victor Moses penalty, Marcos Rojo scored an 86th-minute winner to see Sampaoli's side finish second in Group D.
Amid huge pressure on Messi with Argentina struggling in Russia, Sampaoli dismissed any suggestions the 31-year-old did not enjoy representing his country.
"Every time Messi plays he shows he is fantastic, above everybody else, but he needs the support from his team-mates. Only then will he be able to play at his best," he told a news conference.
"The most important thing for Leo is his human side. It is amazing. He is a person who cries, who suffers and who is happy when Argentina win.
"So for me, it is important to share those feelings. I have seen him happy and sad.
"Many people say Leo does not enjoy playing for Argentina, but he suffers and enjoys like any other player, and that makes him even bigger."
Argentina face France in a blockbuster clash in the last 16 in Kazan on Saturday.