Mascherano pleased for Argentina to fight off 'undeserved' World Cup elimination

Javier Mascherano John Obi Mikel Argentina Nigeria World Cup 2018
Gabriel Rossi
The veteran midfielder was relieved after his side's narrow win over Nigeria, which kept them in the World Cup

A relieved Javier Mascherano believes a group-stage exit would have been undeserved for Argentina, who scraped into the World Cup last 16.

An 86th-minute goal from Marcos Rojo helped Jorge Sampaoli's men to a dramatic 2-1 win over Nigeria on Tuesday, seeing them claim second spot in Group D.

Mascherano, who gave away the penalty that led to Victor Moses cancelling out Lionel Messi's opener, said his side did not deserve an early exit.

"If we had been eliminated, it was going to be undeserved. But this game does not know of merits," the 34-year-old said.

"I could have been responsible because of the penalty and because I'm one of the oldest around here."

The win saw Argentina book a last-16 showdown with France in Kazan on Saturday.

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Mascherano said his team were in no position to complain about facing difficult opposition, given their struggles throughout the group stage.

"It's not good to depend on heroic results. We have to be competitive," he said.

"We can't ask for anyone. We have not played very well and now we have to face France."