Wednesday 27 June 2018, 02:32

Rojo’s premonition becomes glorious reality

  • ​Marcos Rojo scored the goal that took Argentina into the last 16

  • “As soon as I hit it I knew it was going in”

  • Relive the game through our Live Blog

By Diego Zandrino with Argentina

“It was after the Croatia game. We were talking in the room with Ever and Ota and I said to them I felt a goal was coming… And it came, and we had a good laugh on the pitch.”

There is no need to check the facts with Ever Banega or Nicolas Otamendi. Marcos Rojo, one of Argentina’s star performers in Saint Petersburg, gave clear confirmation of his premonition in an exclusive chat with FIFA, the broad smile on his face.

His 86th-minute strike against Nigeria ensured La Albiceleste squeezed through to the Round of 16 at 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Speaking in the mixed zone and brushing off the jokes of his team-mates as they walked by, Marquitos recalled the goal that gave his side a precious 2-1 win.

“I felt Gabi [Gabriel Mercado] might cross it, so when I saw the gap I just got in there,” said Rojo, a team-mate of Mercado’s in the Estudiantes side that won the 2010 Apertura title under former Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella.

“As soon as I hit it I knew it was going in,” continued the centre-half, who powered the ball home with his weaker right foot. “And when I saw it hit the back of the net it was crazy, a huge relief.

It was with his right knee that Rojo scored almost exactly four years ago to the day against Nigeria in the group phase at Brazil 2014. A match-winner in Porto Alegre that day, Rojo went and did it again in Saint Petersburg.

“This goal’s for my family who are here and back there, in Argentina,” said the centre-half, who almost missed the tournament on account of a lack of playing time following a knee injury that had him sidelined for nearly seven months.

“It’s also for the people who were here,” he added. “Today was amazing. Everyone deserves it and we’re happy for them.”

Attention will soon turn to the Round-of-16 tie with France on Saturday 30 June in Kazan. In the meantime, however, the important thing is that the team seems to have turned the page.

Agreeing with that view, Rojo said: “The World Cup starts for us today. We have to keep giving it all we’ve got, now more than ever.”

Marcos Rojo of Argentina celebrates after scoring