Messi scores at last in Argentina’s hard-fought win over Bosnia

2014-06-16 09:12

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Lionel Messi scored what proved to be the decisive goal as Argentina recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in their World Cup opener at the Maracana.

La Albiceleste got off to a flying start in this Group F encounter yesterday when they went in front after just three minutes as Messi’s free kick was turned into his own net by Sead Kolasinac.

Their skipper rose to the occasion in the second half, scoring a superb individual goal to give the South Americans a two-goal cushion, although Vedad Ibisevic pulled it back to one with six minutes remaining to provide a tense finish to the match.

The Dragons’ debut in the tournament got off to a bad start when they found themselves trailing just three minutes after kickoff.

Messi’s set piece from the left flicked off a head inside the 18-yard area and struck the leg of Kolasinac before ending up in the back of the net.

But despite the early goal, neither team created much in the remainder of the first half, although Javier Mascherano tested Asmir Begovic with a fiercely driven shot from just outside the area on 32 minutes.

The closest Safet Susic’s side came to a goal in the opening stanza was when Senad Lulic saw his firm header smartly saved by Sergio Romero low to his left five minutes before the half-time break.

Bosnia threatened twice from set pieces shortly after the interval, although Izet Hajrovic struck both his efforts straight at Romero.

Messi then latched on to a loose pass from Hajrovic to play in Sergio Aguero on the hour mark, but the striker’s tame shot was comfortable for Begovic.

The Barcelona star would light up the stadium just five minutes later when he cut inside from the right and linked up Gonzalo Higuain before carrying the ball across the edge of the area and firing home off the left post with Begovic well beaten, finally ending his eight-year wait for a World Cup goal.

Aguero came close to sealing victory on 76 minutes when he controlled a long ball and raced towards goal, but his shot from 20 yards narrowly missed the target.

The Dragons were by no means outplayed and they had something to cheer about on 84 minutes when Ibisevic embarked on a run before netting through the legs of Romero to score his country’s first-ever World Cup goal.

Messi had a final chance to put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time but he could only hit the side netting after being set up by Higuain.

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