Argentina quiet in first up World Cup win

11:55, Jun 17 2014
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Argentina fan
Argentina fans wait for the Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Maracana
A general view of the stadium during the Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Maracana.
Challenge
Senad Lulic of Bosnia and Herzegovina challenges Lucas Biglia of Argentina.
Goal
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Vedad Ibisevic scores through the legs of Argentina's Sergio Romero.
Messi goal
Argentina's Lionel Messi scores a goal past Bosnia-Herzegovina's goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Contest
Nigeria's Ogenyi Onazi fights for the ball with Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad.
Battle
Iran's Ehsan Hajsafi and Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie jump for the ball.
Up and Over
Vincent Enyeama of Nigeria makes a save over teammate Joseph Yobo and Ashkan Dejagah of Iran.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel of Nigeria controls the ball against Reza Ghoochannejhad of Iran.
Tackle
Peter Odemwingie of Nigeria falls after a challenge by Andranik Teymourian of Iran.
Iran fans
Supporters hold up the Iran flag.
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi celebrates his stoppage-time goal as Argentina defeated Iran 1-0.
Angel di Maria
Argentina's Angel di Maria takes a corner kick against Iran.
Ashkan Dejagah
Iran's Ashkan Dejagah reacts after missing a scoring chance.
Javier Mascherano Ashkan Dejagah
Argentina's Javier Mascherano (right) challenges Iran's Ashkan Dejagah for possession.
Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria
Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria cut a frustrated pair as Argentina struggle to score against Iran.
Marcos Rojo and  Reza Ghoochannejhad
Argentina's Marcos Rojo trips Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad as he attempts to get the ball.
Peter Odemwingie
Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie celebrates scoring his goal against Bosnia at the Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba.
Peter Odemwingie
Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie scores past Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper and club team-mate Asmir Begovic.
Senad Lulic
Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie and Bosnia's Senad Lulic contest possession.
Edin Dzeko
Nigeria's matchwinner Peter Odemwingie is challenged by Bosnia's Senad Lulic.
Edin Dzeko
Bosnia's Edin Dzeko, left, scores a disallowed goal past Nigeria's goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
Vedad Ibisevic
Bosnia's Vedad Ibisevic reacts to a missed chance against Nigeria in their crucial Group F clash.
Marcos Rojo
Marcos Rojo celebrates his match-winning goal, scored off his knee, in Argentina's 3-2 victory over Nigeria.
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina players celebrate after their second goal in a 3-1 victory over Iran.
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi collides with Nigeria's Ogenyi Onazi as he controls the ball in Argentina's group match win.
Vincent Enyeama
Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama makes a save against Argentina.
Juwon Oshaniwa and Ricardo Alvarez
Juwon Oshaniwa of Nigeria and Ricardo Alvarez of Argentina lay on the ground after colliding.
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi prepares to take a free-kick as the referee marks the spot.
Ahmed Musa
Nigerian players celebrate Ahmed Musa's goal.
Toni Sunjic and Muhamed Besic
Edin Dzeko of Bosnia-Herzegovina (right) helps team-mate Toni Sunjic after a collision with Muhamed Besic.
Alireza Hughighi
Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Hughighi is consoled by a member of the training staff after losing to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Avdija Vrsajevic
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Avdija Vrsajevic pumps his fist after scoring his country's third goal against Iran.
Ashkan Dejagah
Iran's Ashkan Dejagah is surrounded by Toni Sunjic, Tino Sven Susic and Miralem Pjanic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Reza Ghoochannejhad
Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad scores his side's only goal past Bosnia-Herzegovina keeper Asmir Begovic.

Lionel Messi finally made his mark on the World Cup and lit up the Maracana with his first goal in the finals for eight years but Argentina had to battle hard for a 2-1 win over debutants Bosnia in their opening Group F match this morning.

Messi, four-times World Player of the Year and Argentina's best footballer since Diego Maradona graced the 1986 tournament, put his side 2-0 ahead in a match where the stadium was turned into little Buenos Aires by tens of thousands of his countrymen.

''It was important to start with a win and to get three points but we need to improve,'' man-of-the-match Messi said.

Fernando Gago and Zvjezdan Misimovic
HEAD'S UP: Argentina's Fernando Gago and Bosnia-Herzegovina's Zvjezdan Misimovic contest for the ball in their World Cup opener.

Although they took the lead in the third minute when Sead Kolasinac netted the fastest own goal in World Cup history, Argentina looked unconvincing until Messi struck with a dazzling run and sweet left-foot shot that went in off the post in the 65th minute after a one-two with substitute Gonzalo Higuain.

It was Messi's first goal in the finals since scoring in Argentina's 6-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro almost eight years ago to the day.

Even then they could not afford to relax as Bosnia substitute Vedad Ibisevic scored in the 85th minute to set up a tense finale.

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Lionel Messi
MAGIC MESSI: Lionel Messi celebrates scoring in Argentina's World Cup opener.

''They were two different halves,'' Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said.

''In the first one I think we controlled the Bosnians well, but beyond that, we didn't create the kind of depth that we managed in the second half. Obviously we need to improve.''

The match was the first game in the tournament to be played at the Maracana, which was celebrating the 64th anniversary of its official opening at the start of the 1950 World Cup.

It was ironic that it was Argentina celebrating in party-style as they just about lived up their billing as odds-on favourites to qualify from a group which also includes Iran and Nigeria and keep alive their hopes of a third world title.

UNWANTED RECORD

The match began dramatically when Kolasinac put through his own net after two minutes and eight seconds, beating the previous unwanted record set by Paraguay's Carlos Gamarra against England in 2006 by 38 seconds.

He was in the wrong place when a Messi free kick, headed on by Marcos Rojo, hit him and went in.

Bosnia, naturally shaken after making such a bad start to their first ever match in the finals, did not dwell on their misfortune for long.

After surviving a nervy spell, they began to look the better side against a subdued Argentina team who were in danger of losing their record of winning their opening match in their last five World Cups.

Messi, whose tepid displays in the last World Cup in South Africa when he failed to score were exhaustively documented, made little impression until his goal and Bosnia had their chances with both Senad Lulic and Edin Dzeko going close in the first half.

Substitute Ibisevic earned a place in Bosnian soccer folklore by scoring their first World Cup goal when he placed his angled shot through Sergio Romero's legs, but it was too little too late.

Bosnia were far from outplayed, however, and capitalised on a cautious safety-first approach from Sabella in the first half.

Playing with five at the back against lone striker Dzeko and with Sergio Aguero and Messi getting limited service in attack, Bosnia dealt with their more illustrious opponents with relative ease.

Muhamed Besic did a good policing job on Messi who was largely anonymous in the first half.

Sabella changed his formation at halftime, introducing Fernando Gago in midfield and Higuain in attack but in the end it was Messi's magic, as so often is the case, that made the difference.

''The objective was to play as well as we can against Argentina, who are the favourites to win the World Cup, and I think we played a good match,'' Bosnia coach Safet Susic said.

''We played well in both halves and it was only because of the psychological pressure that we looked as if we had run out of steam a little bit in the closing stages.''

Reuters