Argentina's coach Jorge Sampaoli reacts during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, 2018. Croatia won 0-3. AFP PHOTO | Martin BERNETTI
Agence France-Presse

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli consulted Lionel Messi about substitutions mid-game as the Albiceleste overcame Nigeria to progress to the last 16 of the World Cup.

Barcelona star Messi gave Argentina an early lead with a stunning goal but, after Nigeria had equalised, it was defender Marcos Rojo who struck the decisive late winner to send the side through.

Argentina have been engulfed in drama after failing to win their first two matches, and there were rumours before the game that the players had staged a coup and selected the team themselves.

There were five changes to the starting XI, with Gonzalo Higuain brought back into the attack to lead the line and Willy Caballero dropped for debutant Franco Armani.

Incredibly, even during the match Sampaoli appeared to lack authority and actually asked Messi whether he should bring on Sergio Aguero midway through the second half.

The side were drawing and in need of a goal when an agitated Sampaoli shouted at Messi: ‘Should I bring on Kun?’

His star player obviously answered in the affirmative, with Aguero entering the fray late on in place of left-back Nicolas Tagliafico; the substitution saw Rojo move to the left, later scoring the winning goal.

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