Lionel Messi believes Argentina are getting better and better after a 3-2 win over Nigeria guaranteed their place in the last 16 as group winners.
Messi scored twice, including a superb free-kick, but a double from Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa meant Marcos Rojo needed to score a third in the second half to earn maximum points.
Argentina were underwhelming in the their opening victories over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran but Messi, who is now joint top-scorer with four goals, believes the team are growing into the tournament.
“We were better in this game, regardless of the goals we conceded,” Messi told FIFA’s official website.
“We were more threatening today, found the spaces to exploit and had more chances to score. But we still want more.
“The good thing is we improved and it’s a wonderful experience with the people here. We’re all still chasing a shared dream.”
Argentina had already qualified for the knock-out stages before kick-off against Nigeria but finishing top of Group F means Alejandro Sabella’s side will almost certainly avoid in-form France in the next round.
“We’d already qualified for the next round but it’s good to have finished top of the group, that’s what we were aiming for,” Sabella said.
“We improved, were more mobile, passed the ball better and were quicker.
“We were better at changing the tempo of the game too, improved our interplay and had a lot of chances.
“The further into the tournament we go, the more we’re finding our rhythm. The structure of the side is getting much better.”
Despite the defeat, Nigeria still progressed to the last 16 as group runners-up after Iran were beaten 3-1 by Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi admits he was disappointed with his side’s defeat but insists the team are delighted to make it through to the next round.
“It’s an honour and we’re very happy to reach the next round,” Keshi said.
“I think we lost the game because we showed them too much respect in the first half.
“After the break we managed to play our game, attacked more, had more possession and were better overall.
“But Argentina are a great team and Messi’s a great player. He’s blessed and there’s no way you can escape him. Messi’s from Jupiter.”