Argentina and the Thrill of the Last-Minute Scramble


Argentina and the Thrill of the Last-Minute Scramble

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


he last effort before a looming deadline is truly magical. It’s when desperation turns into inspiration, madness leads to miracles, and dreams sometimes come true. On the final match day of Group D in the World Cup, staring down the barrel at an ignominious first-round exit, former tournament favourites Argentina found themselves possessed by the muse of last-minute inspiration, and, as they have promised but failed to do until last night, put on a performance that was not only crucial but magical.

Serendipity had its part to play, of course, as it does with any great sporting story. Coming into the game against Nigeria placed third in their group, Argentina needed nothing less than a win to advance to the next stage. The referee’s decision to not award a second penalty to Nigeria, after an earlier penalty had already yielded a goal for the Africans, was that serendipitous moment for La Albiceleste last night. But that does not take away from the fact that this was Argentina’s final opportunity to live up to their potential at football’s grandest stage, and they played like a team aware of that fact.