Messi shines again and Shaqiri joins the fun

Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:56pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Argentina’s Lionel Messi continued his World Cup dual with Neymar by scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Nigeria while Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri got in on the act with a magnificent hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Honduras on Wednesday.

Nigeria scraped through behind already-qualified Argentina, becoming the first African team to reach the last 16 at this tournament, while Switzerland also qualified along with France, who drew 0-0 with Ecuador.

Shaqiri and Messi will cross paths on Tuesday when Argentina meet Switzerland in their round of 16 match in Sao Paulo while France face Nigeria in Brasilia on Monday.

Iran's hopes ended in a 3-1 loss to World Cup debutantes Bosnia, who enjoyed their first win at the finals while the Luis Suarez biting controversy rumbled on in the background.

Two days after Neymar scored twice in Brazil’s 4-1 win over Cameroon on Monday, Messi replied with a brace of his own to leave the pair as joint top scorers at the tournament with four goals.

While Nigeria celebrated qualification, there was less joy for African elsewhere as Ghana became embroiled in a row over appearance fees on the eve of their decisive Group G match against Portugal which needed the intervention of President John Mahama.

In Porto Alegre, Messi lashed in a rebound after three minutes but Nigeria equalised a minute later with a superb finish by Ahmed Musa. But Messi was not to be outdone and curled in a brilliant 20-metre freekick in first-half stoppage time.

Musa levelled again with a clever finish two minutes after the restart but Argentina, who were assured of qualification before kickoff, got a fortunate third eight minutes later when a corner bounced in off the knee of Marcos Rojo.   Continued...

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Nigeria June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples