Bosnia’s early own goal dooms them as Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, seal victory 2-1.
Byline: Kevin Buckles Jr, Sports Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO–Any doubts about Lionel Messi’s World Cup play after going scoreless in 2010’s tournament were expunged Sunday afternoon when he led Argentina to a 2-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Maracanã – Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho.
Messi, with help from Bosnia, led his team to a great start in the third minute when he delivered a well-placed free kick from the left side of the field directly into the middle of the penalty box.
The ball ricocheted off the heads of two different players, where it then landed near the far post and was inadvertently kicked into the net by Bosnia defender Sead Kolašinac into his own goal, giving Argentina a 1-0 lead in the third minute.
After failing to score again in the first half, Messi decided to become aggressive to assure Argentina a win. In the 65 minute, the Barcelona star forward sparked an attack, dribbling his way through several Bosnia defenders down the right side of the field.
Messi then quickly dished the ball to his teammate, striker Gonzalo Higuaín, who swiftly passed it back to the star forward in stride as he blazed horizontally past defenders and into the penalty box.
From there, Messi displayed nimble feet and sharp dribbling as he blew by Bosnia’s last line of defense and struck a left-footed dart into the bottom left corner of the net, igniting the large Argentine crowd in attendance and giving his team a 2-0 lead.
Prior Sunday’s match, Messi had only scored one goal in the World Cup dating back to 2006 when he scored against Serbia and Montenegro
“It was an important goal for me, but even more importantly it sealed the win for us,” Messi said after the match.
Though Bosnia was aggressive and were able to control the tempo for a large portion of the game, they weren’t able to put the ball into the net until the 84 minute to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
It was too late however as Argentina still went on to win the match and earn three points.
“We wanted to give the favorites a fight and I’m satisfied with what we did,” said Bosnia and Herzegovina head coach SafecSušić. “I knew our fans would be cheering us on, but we’ve also had an amazing welcome from the people of Brazil.”
Despite the early start, and eventual two-goal lead, Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella thought the game was much closer than what the score provided.
“It was an even game right from the start,” Sabella told FIFA.com. “We started to make more chances when Higuain came on and we got the second goal, which helped us settle down. I can’t really have any complaints about the result. Perhaps we made an error or two, and I’m sure I got one or two things wrong, but we should cherish these three points because the Bosnians were no pushovers.”
Messi also mentioned post-game that nerves could have contributed to Argentina’s lack of control at certain points of the game but winning the game is ultimately what is most important.
“It’s only normal to feel a little bit anxious and nervous in the first game, Messi said. “The main thing is just to get the win. We made more chances in the second half, and though there are some things we need to work on, what matters are the three points.”
Argentina will look to secure more points en route to the Round of 16 Saturday against Iran at Estádio Mineirão, while Bosnia and Herzegovina will attempt to win their first game of the tourney facing off on Saturday as well, against Nigeria at Arena Pantanal.
Highlights of this game can be seen on this link http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1885053, video provided by ESPN FC.