2017 International Friendly, International Friendly
  • Éver Banega (27')
  • Sergio Agüero (36')
  • Kelechi Iheanacho (44')
  • Alex Iwobi (52', 73')
  • Bryan Idowu (54')

Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho help Nigeria rally to stun Argentina

Alex Iwobi & Brian Idowu of Nigeria EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

Alex Iwobi scored twice as Nigeria fought back from two goals down to thump Argentina 4-2 in Tuesday's friendly in Krasnodar.

Jorge Sampaoli's side were without Lionel Messi for their second of two matches in Russia.

The Barcelona playmaker took part in a full game for the 1-0 win over the 2018 World Cup hosts at the newly-refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Saturday before returning to Spain.

Argentina, though, showed few early signs of missing their talisman as Ever Banega curled in a free kick before Sergio Aguero made it 2-0 after 36 minutes.

However, Kelechi Iheanacho started the recovery with another well-executed free kick before half-time.

Iwobi swept in an equaliser five minutes after the restart and another from defender Brian Idowu, on his debut, swiftly turned the match around.

The 21-year-old Arsenal forward netted a fourth with 17 minutes left to complete a remarkable comeback and leave Argentina facing more questions on the road towards next summer's finals.

It had earlier all looked so good for the South Americans, who went in front after 26 minutes.

Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi handled the ball outside the penalty area, and Banega sent the resulting free kick into the bottom corner.

Nicolas Otamendi headed wide from a corner before Argentina doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Aguero guided home Cristian Pavon's cross.

The Super Eagles, who secured their place at the 2018 World Cup as one of the Confederation of African Football group winners, reduced the deficit just before half-time.

Javier Mascherano fouled Iwobi to concede a free-kick just outside the penalty area, which Iheanacho promptly clipped over the wall and into the top-right corner past the diving Agustin Marchesin.

In stoppage-time, Argentina stopper Marchesin produced a fine reaction save from midfielder Wilfred Ndidi.

There was a worrying moment at half-time as Aguero fell dizzy and fainted. He was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Nigeria were level five minutes into the second half. Iheanacho turned provider as he darted into the right side of the penalty area and picked out Iwobi with a cut-back towards the penalty spot, with the Arsenal front man sweeping a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.

Before Argentina could regroup, Nigeria went ahead after 53 minutes. Iheanacho was again the creator, this time laying the ball off at the edge of the area for Idowu, who was born in Russia and plays there for Amkar Perm, to drill a low strike past Marchesin.

It got worse for Argentina after 73 minutes when Iwobi skipped past Mascherano at the edge of the penalty area before slamming the ball into the net.

Ndidi nodded wide before Nigeria keeper Francis Uzoho saved a header from Dario Benedetto, but there was no dramatic finale.