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Maradona treated by paramedics after
Argentina’s nerve-wracking win

By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Former Argentina star, Diego Maradona needed treatment by paramedics following Argentina’s nerve-wracking win over Nigeria which booked them a place in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday night.

Maradona was shown by TV cameras during the game to be in a highly nervous state as Argentina struggled for the win they needed to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages of the tournament. Maradona was pictured making obscene gestures to fans after defender Marcos Rojo netted the late goal that earned the South Americans a tie against France.

After the game, Maradona was shown being helped from his seat in the St Petersburg Stadium before collapsing into a chair. He received treatment from Russian paramedics, with some media outlets reporting he had been taken to a local hospital.

The former player denied he had been taken to the hospital and posted a photo of himself in a private jet about to fly to Moscow at around 01:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Former England striker Gary Lineker criticized Maradona’s goal celebrations as he hosted the BBC’s World Cup coverage in England.  “There’s Diego Maradona celebrating...there’s a danger he’s becoming a laughing stock I’m afraid,” Lineker said.

During his career Maradona was twice banned for drug use, leaving Napoli after testing positive for cocaine. He also received a further ban after a positive drugs test during the 1994 World Cup finals.



Messi enjoys playing for Argentina, says Sampaoli

SAINT PETERSBURG Russia (Xinhua) -- Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli praised his team for their 2018 World Cup victory against Nigeria on Tuesday evening, and said that the match proved that Lionel Messi enjoyed playing for Argentina.

Messi scored Argentina’s opening goal at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. After Nigeria equalized through a penalty, Marcos Rojo’s late volley ensured Argentina were spared an early exit from the World Cup.

“Today they were able to win against a very tough opponent. We had the necessary strength to fight to the very last minute,” Sampaoli told reporters at the post-match press conference.

“The most important thing this evening was that the players were really brave and that made the victory possible,” he added.

The Argentina coach also refuted the notion that Messi didn’t enjoy playing for his country.

“He is a person who feels, who cries, who suffers, who’s happy when Argentina win. I’ve seen him sad and I’ve seen him happy, like he was today. People have said he doesn’t enjoy playing for Argentina. That’s not true and you saw it today,” Sampaoli said.

The 58-year-old coach praised Messi for his outstanding performance, while adding that the Argentina captain needed support from the other players.

“He needs the support from his teammates, only then he will be able to show his best,” he said.

“A coach who trains Leo knows everyone around him needs to make him feel secure. Otherwise, we’ll suffer because we have the best player in the world and the other players need to benefit from that. That’s why I said the game against Croatia was our problem, not his problem,” he added.

With the victory, Argentina finished second in Group D to secure a place in the round of 16, where they will play France in Kazan on June 30.  



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