Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the group D match between Argentina and Nigeria, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) Credit: Petr David Josek | AP

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — From his thigh to his foot to the back of the net, Lionel Messi finally scored a goal at this year’s World Cup.

The exquisite strike from the Argentina great sparked the first of several celebrations from an animated Diego Maradona, who screamed, shouted and made obscene gestures — and raised concerns for his health.

Argentina staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria on Tuesday, getting a late goal from Marcos Rojo. Maradona showed both middle fingers to the crowd after the 86th-minute winner.

A short time later, videos posted on social media showed Maradona needing help out of the stands and into an adjoining luxury box at the stadium. He appeared to have his eyes closed and a later photo showed a pair of paramedics attending to him.

There was no immediate information on his health, but about two hours later he was photographed smiling at an airport. Another photo posted on Twitter appeared to show him sitting on a plane.

Messi’s goal — his 65th for Argentina — was surely enough to impress even Maradona.

From a long pass over the defense by Ever Banega, Messi caressed the ball with his left thigh, took another touch with his left foot, and then delivered a smooth right-footed finish into the corner.

Messi fell to his knees and pointed his fingers upward in celebration. At the same time, Maradona crossed his arms with his hands on his shoulders and looked to the sky.

“I knew that God is with us,” Messi said, “and he wouldn’t let us get eliminated.”

Messi, who later hit the post off a free kick, and Banega controlled the game in the first half. Rojo finished it off in the second by cushioning a volley with his right foot into the bottom corner and ensuring Messi’s quest for a first World Cup title continued.

Argentina will play France in the last 16 in Kazan on Saturday. If Argentines win and Portugal beats Uruguay on Saturday, Messi would face Cristiano Ronaldo in the quarterfinals.

Croatia 2, Iceland 1

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — Croatia ended Iceland’s chances at the World Cup and helped out Argentina at the same time.

Ivan Perisic capitalized on a defensive error to score a 90th-minute winner Tuesday, giving Croatia a 2-1 win over Iceland and first place in Group D on Tuesday.

Iceland could have finished second in the group with a victory because Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 at the same time. Instead, the Croats will face Denmark on Sunday in Nizhny Novgorod.

Fielding a side filled with reserves after already being assured of a spot in the round of 16, Croatia started to take control of the match in the second half.

Milan Badelj, moments after hitting the bar, scored the opening goal in the 53rd minute. He sprinted into the area and sent a bouncing shot past goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.

Iceland equalized in the 76th when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from the penalty spot after substitute Dejan Lovren handled the ball.

Defender Sverrir Ingason twice threatened for Iceland, hitting the crossbar with a header in the second half.

France 0, Denmark 0

MOSCOW — A game no team needed to win became the game no fan would want to watch.

France and Denmark produced the World Cup’s first 0-0 draw at the 37th attempt amid boos and whistles from fans on Tuesday.

The slow-paced game was out of step with a vibrant tournament. But it advanced both teams to the round of 16 unbeaten, with the bonus of no players suspended and no serious injuries. France will now play Argentina, and Denmark faces Croatia.

The draw would always have ensured that outcome, and became inevitable in the second half. Events elsewhere in Group C made this game all but irrelevant.

Peru beat Australia 2-0 in Sochi at the same time, meaning the Danes would have advanced even if they lost to France before 78,011 at the World Cup’s signature Luzhniki Stadium.

France was already sure to advance with two opening victories, and this result spread the happiness to Denmark and its thousands of fans who stayed to dance and cheer in an empty stadium.

Less happy were the neutral fans in the crowd. Many Russians cheered the host team’s name and whistled misplaced passes and slow play as the game progressed with Denmark protecting its one point for a draw.

It was the longest a World Cup had gone without a goalless draw since 1954, a tournament of 26 games which all delivered at least one goal.

France coach Didier Deschamps rested six starters to put out a team that barely tested Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel until substitute Nabil Fekir tried two long-range shots.

It was a mostly forgettable first major tournament start for France goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who has been a backup at two World Cups and three European Championships. The 33-year-old made his only save in the 54th minute, spilling Christian Eriksen’s free-kick before pouncing on the loose ball.

Peru 2, Australia 0

SOCHI, Russia — Back at the World Cup for the first time since 1982, Peru isn’t leaving Russia empty handed.

The Peruvians failed to score a goal in their opening two matches, but the team finally gave its fans a reason to celebrate when it ended Australia’s hopes of advancing to the knockout round with a 2-0 victory on Tuesday.

The Australians had to beat Peru and hope Denmark lost to France in the other Group C match, but neither result occurred. France and Denmark drew 0-0 in Moscow.

Andre Carrillo’s 18th-minute goal — a half-volley from inside the area — was Peru’s first in a World Cup since its last appearance 36 years ago. Peru hadn’t won a World Cup match since defeating Iran in 1978.

Peru captain Paolo Guerrero, who almost missed the tournament because of a doping suspension, scored the other goal in the 50th with a left-footed strike after getting to a loose ball inside the area.

Australia striker Tim Cahill, a 38-year-old veteran who entered the match in the 53rd minute, had a chance to become only the fifth player to score in four World Cups, joining Pele, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo. But he had few chances.

Australia needed the victory to reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2006 but it had a slow start at Fisht Stadium, unable to get near the opposing area. The Peruvians, boosted by a loud crowd that heavily outnumbered the Aussies, took advantage of their chances and gave their team an honorable finish after two opening losses.