Messi strike lights up Maracana as Argentina sink Bosnia

Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:37pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - 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 debutantes Bosnia in their opening Group F match on Sunday.

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 on a night when 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 told reporters.

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.

"They were two different halves," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella told a news conference.

"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."   Continued...

Argentina's Lionel Messi acknowledges the fans after they won their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match against Bosnia at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro June 15, 2014. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares