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Photos: Messi strikes as Argentina scrape past Bosnia-Herzegovina

Last updated on: June 16, 2014 06:03 IST

Photos: Messi strikes as Argentina scrape past Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Lionel Messi scored a trademark individual goal as Argentina began their World Cup campaign with a narrow 2-1 victory over Bosnia-Hercegovina at Rio de Janeiro's renovated Maracana stadium on Sunday.

The Barcelona superstar created the third-minute own goal by Sead Kolasinac which put Argentina ahead, but it took a mid-match tactical shift for him to really start influencing proceedings.

In the 65th minute he scored a goal befitting of the iconic 78,800-seater stadium, collecting the ball deep and exchanging passes with Gonzalo Higuain before darting past a pair of defenders and slamming home via the base of the left-hand post.

It was only the second World Cup goal of the 26-year-old's career and substitute Vedad Ibisevic's late reply for Bosnia meant that it proved decisive.

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Image: Lionel Messi of Argentina (right) celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammates
Photographs: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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Sabella paired Messi and Aguero in attack

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With tournament debutants Bosnia likely to be Argentina's strongest rivals for group supremacy, Alejandro Sabella's team is firmly on course to reach the last 16 ahead of further games against Iran and Nigeria.

With Higuain still troubled by an ankle injury, Sabella elected to deploy a 5-3-2 formation that paired Messi with Sergio Aguero in attack.

It was a departure from the 4-3-3 system used in qualifying, when Argentina topped the South American standings, but it did not stop Messi from making an early impression.

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Image: Lionel Messi scores Argentina's second goal past Asmir Begovic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Photographs: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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Own goal from Kolasinac

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A free-kick wide on the left gave the Argentina captain a chance to bend a cross into the box and although Marcos Rojo made only glancing contact, the ball cannoned into the net off the unfortunate Kolasinac.

Timed at two minutes and eight seconds, it was the quickest own goal in World Cup history.

In characteristic fashion, Messi repeatedly dropped deep to collect the ball, but too often he ran down blind alleys or found himself crowded out.

Having overcome the shock of conceding such an early goal, Bosnia found that they were able to hold Argentina at arm's length with relative ease, and they grew bolder in attack.

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Image: Sead Kolasinac of Bosnia and Herzegovina (extreme right) scores an own goal past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images

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Romero kept Bosnian strikers at bay

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Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero did well twice before half-time, saving bravely from Izet Hajrovic following a lofted pass by Zvjezdan Misimovic and then plunging to his left to repel a header from Senad Lulic.

Sabella took decisive action at half-time, sending on Higuain and Fernando Gago for Maxi Rodriguez and Hugo Campanaro and reverting to the tried and tested 4-3-3.

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Image: Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero makes a save past Bosnia's Edin Dzeko (right)
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

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Ibisevic reduced the margin of defeat

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But Messi was beginning to see more of the ball, and he twice teed up Aguero, who blazed wildly over before testing Begovic with a side-foot shot.

A ballooned free-kick suggested that Messi was still feeling his way into the tournament, but moments later he announced his arrival in style with Argentina's second goal.

Ibisevic reduced the arrears with five minutes to play, squeezing a shot between Romero's legs and over the line, but Argentina managed to see the game out.

 


Image: Bosnia's Vedad Ibisevic (L) scores through the legs of Argentina's Sergio Romero
Photographs: Tony Gentile/Reuters

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