Chelsea right-wingback, Victor Moses has admitted that Barcelona icon, Lionel Messi made Tuesday’s match difficult for Nigeria, and submitted that playing against the Argentina captain is always a difficult task.
Speaking against the backdrop of Messi’s early goal that set the stage for Argentina’s 2-1 win and Nigeria’s ultimate elimination from Russia 2018, Moses said it was bound to be an uphill task trying to stop the two-time champions, but also noted that the referee did not matters any easier for the Eagles.
Moses said the Turkish ref, Cuneyt Cakir, made the wrong call when he failed to award a penalty to Nigeria in the closing minutes of their 2-1 loss to Argentina on Tuesday.
Four minutes into the second half, the official had pointed to the spot after Javier Mascherano pulled Leon Balogun by the shirt, and Moses placed the ball in the net.
Asked if he had any complaints that the referee did not accord Nigeria the privilege of another penalty and added only four minutes of injury time at the end of the second half, Moses said none of it mattered any longer, as the Eagles failed to convert their chances.
He expatiated: “It was hard to play against Messi and the rest. To be honest, they have a very strong team, we played well and did not deserve to lose.
“As regards to the penalty, it was exactly. Strange that it was not given, I was very surprised.
”The referee thought that it was a penalty, but then went to watch the VAR and did not award it. It’s a shame to lose in such a match.”
On the other hand, Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi was outraged by the decision of the Turkish referee not to award a penalty after a handball by Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Nigeria were denied a clear penalty when Cüneyt ruled that Rojo had headed the ball on to his own arm after consulting VAR, much to Mikel’s consternation.
He argued: “I don’t understand how that wasn’t a penalty, for me it was a clear handball, clear penalty.
”If you watched the Portugal match, that wasn’t even close to this, this was even worse, this was open. He had the ball and the ball hit his hand, maybe the referee gave the first penalty and didn’t want to give the second one.
”A penalty is a penalty, if you give the first one, you can still give a penalty, we have seen it again in the dressing room.
“It was a clear penalty, so there wasn’t any way the referee couldn’t give the penalty. He looked at the VAR and told me the ball hit the player’s hand.”