By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Argentina beat Bosnia 2-1 this evening in the first World Cup game to be held at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium. A wonder strike from Lionel Messi secured the points in one of the best games of the competition so far, with Bosnia proving they are not to be taken lightly by upcoming opponents Nigeria and Iran.
Messi, by his high standards, was having a quiet game until he burst into life just after the hour mark with a sublime piece of skill to win the game for the two-time world champions. He had been provoked by the Brazilians in the crowd with cries of “Neymar!” and responded in kind with a strike every bit as good as Neymar’s last Thursday.
Argentina went ahead after only three minutes in extremely fortunate circumstances. An inswinging free-kick took a ricochet off Kolasinac and rolled into the net to hand the Bosnians a nightmare start. Yet having taken the lead, Argentina failed to press on.
Coach Alejandro Sabella had opted to go with three central defenders, leaving forward Gonzalo Higuain on the bench. The tactical formation meant Argentina’s back to front ball movement was lethargic, starving Messi and Sergio Aguero who were patrolling the front line. Argentina were 1-0 up at half-time but Bosnia were never chasing shadows.
At least, not until the 64th minute. Combining with Higuain, on as a substitute for the second half, the number 10 skipped past two markers before firing home from the edge of the penalty area. There was pandemonium in the stands as the Argentines went wild. Their idol had come good, netting just his second goal in World Cup tournaments.
Six minutes from time however, Ibisevic pulled one back from Bosnia, slotting the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Sergio Romero, yet Bosnia could not find an equalizer.
Argentina and Lionel Messi are on their way. Their next encounter is on Saturday, against Iran, at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.
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