Leo Messi ended his World Cup curse with a sensational goal, but Argentina weren’t impressive as they beat Bosnia 2-1.
Group F opened in the cauldron of the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, as Leo Messi’s Argentina gave Bosnia their all-time debut in major tournaments. Inter’s Hugo Campagnaro and Federico Fernandez of Napoli started, but Gonzalo Higuain was on the bench. Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic and Lazio winger Senad Lulic played, while Manchester City teammates Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko faced off.
It was a nightmare start for Bosnia, as after two minutes and 10 seconds a Messi free kick was flicked on to bounce off Sead Kolasinac’s shin into the far bottom corner. This was the third own goal of the World Cup so far.
Bosnia took a while to settle, but caused a scare when ex-Sampdoria goalkeeper Sergio Romero came tearing off his line to bravely deny Izet Hajrovic following a smart first touch on a ball over the top.
A couple of Pjanic free kicks caused problems in the Argentine defence, but Asmir Begovic parried a Javier Mascherano snapshot from distance.
Dzeko opted to fire over rather than play Lulic into a better position, while Romero did brilliantly to palm a Lulic bullet header round the base of the near post from a corner.
Argentina’s first half performance was disappointing, so Alejandro Sabella made a double change with Napoli striker Higuain and ex-Roma midfielder Fernando Gago, moving to 4-3-3.
Romero smothered a Hajrovic free kick and Misimovic effort, but at the other end Aguero hoofed over from an excellent scoring position, seeming to kick the turf.
Marco Rojo surprised everyone, including his own teammates, when clearing inside his penalty area with a risky rabona.
Messi had only ever scored once in a World Cup, on his debut in 2006, but The Flea corrected that with a stunning strike. He cut in from the right, dribbled through a sea of blue shirts and smacked his finish in off the inside of the near post.
It was a huge moment for him, as until then he had barely impacted the game and repeatedly given away possession. The substitutions changed the match and it was Higuain who provided the assist for Messi’s goal. Spahic prevented a third goal with a sliding tackle to block Messi tapping in on the counter.
Bosnia made history with their first ever World Cup goal. Stuttgart striker Vedad Ibisevic sprung the offside trap on a Lulic through ball and kept his cool to nutmeg Romero from a tight angle.
Argentina 2-1 Bosnia
Scorers: Kolasinac og 3 (A), Messi 65 (A), Ibisevic 84 (B)
Argentina: Romero; Campagnaro (Gago 46), F Fernandez, Garay; Zabaleta, Rodriguez (Higuain 46), Mascherano, Di Maria, Rojo; Messi, Aguero (Biglia 87)
Bosnia: Begovic; Mujdza (Ibisevic 69), Spahic, Bicakcic, Kolasinac; Misimovic (Medunjanin 74), Hajrovic (Visca 71), Besic, Pjanic, Lulic; Dzeko
Ref: Aguilar (SLV)