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Mikel furious after Nigeria denied penalty after “clear handball”

Nigeria v Argentina: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
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Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel was left fuming after his side were denied a penalty by the referee after Argentina defender Marcos Rojo clearly handled the ball in their 2-1 defeat

The Super Eagles had a cautious start to the match on Tuesday by defending deep before bursting into life after the break with Victor Moses cancelling out Lionel Messi’s opener with a penalty to restore hope of a second straight appearance at the Round of 16 stage.

While the game was still tied at 1-1, Rojo attempted to clear the ball with his head before it deflected off his hand.

Despite Nigeria’s strong protests, Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir waived away the appeal after consulting the VAR system.

“I don’t understand how that was not a penalty,” said Mikel, according to ESPN.

“It was a clear handball. If you look at this game yesterday against Portugal, this was even worse.”

Ironically it was Rojo who then scored the decisive goal for Argentina that condemned Nigeria to a 2-1 defeat and an early exit from the World Cup.

“He [Rojo] had the ball and it hit his hand and it was open. Maybe the referee didn’t want to give a second penalty,” added Mikel.

“For us, we’ve seen the replay, it was a clear handball. He looked at the VAR, the ball hit the hand.

“I asked him for an explanation, did the ball hit the hand? He said `Yes.’ Why is it not a penalty? He did not know.”

The result saw Argentina leapfrog Nigeria into second place in Group D with Gernot Rohr’s side finishing with three points in third place.

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