Messi inspires Argentina victory

Messi

Lionel Messi scored a superb goal as Argentina began their World Cup campaign with a win over World Cup debutants Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Argentina went ahead when Messi’s free-kick was put into his own net by defender Sead Kolasinac.

Messi then played a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain, jinked past two defenders and rifled in to make it 2-0.

The goal lifted Argentina and, despite Vedad Ibisevic slotting in late on for Bosnia-Hercegovina, they held on.

All eyes were on Messi in the first game of the tournament at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio and, even though the four-time World Player of the Year took time to get going, he announced his arrival in sparkling style with his goal.

The strike was his second World Cup goal in nine games and provided the one piece of mesmerising magic Messi managed in a game in which he and Argentina improved the longer it progressed.

The blue and white of Argentina fans was prominent at the spiritual home of fierce rivals and hosts Brazil, although they had to watch on as a disciplined Bosnia stifled their side for most of the first half.

There was huge hype around Messi and Argentina getting their campaign under way, and the forward helped his side take an early lead with his first meaningful touch.

He supplied the left wing free-kick which was flicked on by team-mate Rojo before the ball came off defender Kolasinac and went into his own net.

However, Argentina rarely looked like adding to the goal as they lacked pace and invention, while regularly giving the ball away.

Bosnia slowly settled into the match and created sporadic chances, starting with a Miralem Pjanic shot being punched away by keeper Sergio Romero.

Pjanic also opened up Argentina when he clipped a ball over the top of their defence, which Izet Hajrovic brought down only for Romero to quickly come out and save.

Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano had a powerful low shot blocked away by Bosnia keeper Asmir Begovic before Bosnia again went close to equalising.

Senad Lulic managed to steal in and get on the end of a corner but his low header was palmed away by Romero.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella brought on Higuain and Fernando Gago after the break and the move from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 worked as La Albiceleste had more urgency about them after the reshuffle.

The improvement culminated in Messi’s eye-catching goal. He played a one-two with Higuain before his balance, poise and pace helped him to evade two Bosnia defenders on the way to arrowing in an 18-yard shot off the inside of the post.

Bosnia gave Argentina some late concern when Lulic slipped a pass through for Vedad Ibisevic to angle in a low shot with six minutes left, but Sabella’s side avoided any more scares.