After cutting a disinterested figure in the first half,
the Barcelona star came to life and scored a brilliant
solo effort as his side began their World Cup campaign
with a win
A moment of magic from Lionel Messi helped Argentina to a
winning start in their World Cup campaign as they beat
Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 at the Maracana on Sunday.
Sead Kolasinac's unfortunate own goal in just the third
minute sent the South Americans on their way before Messi
scored with a fine second-half effort.
Substitute Vedad Ibisevic gave Bosnia hope with an 85th-
minute goal, but they were unable to find an equaliser.
Messi, like his team, had been largely poor until the 65th-
minute goal as Argentina, one of the tournament favourites,
toiled away manfully in the Group F clash.
Alejandro Sabella would have been worried about the opening
hour, but his team finished decently after Messi's second
World Cup goal and first since 2006.
Starting with a 5-3-2 was perhaps the biggest surprise to
Sabella's Argentina line-up.
Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain was left on the bench,
seemingly still yet to recover fully from an ankle injury.
In their first ever World Cup game, Bosnia-Herzegovina had
few shocks in their starting XI with Edin Dzeko leading the
line in a 4-2-3-1.
But Safet Susic's men made the worst possible start to be
behind after two minutes and eight seconds.
Messi's set-piece from the left was headed by Marcos
Rojo, hit a stranded Kolasinac and crept past goalkeeper
Asmir Begovic for the fastest own goal in World Cup history.
Izet Hajrovic almost had Bosnia level in the 13th minute, but
goalkeeper Sergio Romero scrambled away after the
midfielder's heavy first touch.
Despite the awful start, Susic's side looked comfortable in
defence and were just lacking some polish in the attacking
Maxi Rodriguez blazed well over from 30 yards just after the
half-hour mark for Argentina, while Javier Mascherano's
effort from range forced Begovic into a save moments later.
An off-balance Dzeko tried his luck from outside the area in
the 33rd minute, but he curled his left-footed shot over the
A largely dull first half was brought to life four minutes
Senad Lulic almost had Bosnia's equaliser from a Miralem
Pjanic corner, only for Romero to push the header around his
post in the last chance of the half.Unhappy with his side's
first half, Sabella made two changes at the break as Higuain
and Fernando Gago replaced Rodriguez and Hugo Campagnaro,
with the system shifting to a flexible 4-3-3.
But Bosnia remained on the front foot after the interval as
Hajrovic struck a free kick straight at Romero from 25 yards
in the 50th minute and then shot at him from range.
Sergio Aguero's strike from an angle lacked the power and
direction to seriously trouble Begovic after he was teed up
Messi had squandered a good free kick chance before he
doubled Argentina's lead in the 65th minute in truly emphatic
The Barcelona star exchanged passes with Higuain, skipped
past a challenge and placed his left-footed shot in off the
post from the edge of the area.
Ibisevic pulled a goal back for Susic's side - their first ever
in the World Cup - as he poked through Romero's legs after a
fine through ball by Lulic, but Argentina held on.