Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli praised his side's bravery after Marcos Rojo's late winning goal saw his side scrape a narrow 2-1 win over Nigeria to qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup.

La Albicelestehad endured a torrid start to the tournament, drawing with Iceland in their opening game, before suffering a humiliating 3-0 defeat at the hands of Croatia, which left Argentina's hopes of progressing in the tournament dangling by a thread.

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However, Sampaoli's side were much improved in the first half against Nigeria and took a deserved lead through Lionel Messi - though a poor second half showing allowed Nigeria back into the game, until Rojo popped up to volley home in the 86th minute.

"My players achieved a victory which is very important for the future," Sampaoli told reporters in his post-match press conference (via Sports Mole). "It's a good opportunity.

"The players knew that they are excellent players and they wanted to show that. Today they won against an excellent opponent. We fought until the very last minute.

"We realised Nigeria had enough with a draw so we made many changes, trying to create opportunities. The players were brave and that courage made the second goal possible."

Sampaoli's side narrowly qualified for the knockout stages in second place behind Croatia, who beat Iceland 2-1 to take the maximum amount of points from their group.

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Argentina will now face Group C winners France in the round of 16 after Les Bleus ended the group stages with a drab 0-0 draw with Denmark.