Messi solo strike helps Argentina scrape win
Lionel Messi made the difference with a brilliant individual goal
A brilliant solo goal by Lionel Messi helped Argentina scrape a win over minnows Bosnia at the Maracana.
Thousands of Argentina supporters helped turn Rio de Janeiro into something more like Buenos Aires, but they did not get what they came for in the first half.
Things seemed like they would be smooth for Argentina after they struck early on.
Barcelona star Messi whipped in a free kick from the left, flicked on by Marcos Rojo, and it hit the unfortunate Sead Kolasinac who could only deflect it into his own net, past Asmir Begovic.
But after that, it was far from plain sailing.
They struggled to make any chances against a tough Bosnia side, with Messi shackled well, usually by two or three players at once.
Alejandro Sabella had picked a strange Argentina side, in a 5-3-2, with Gonzalo Higuain on the bench for no real reason.
Bosnia began to thrive and Edin Dzeko went close with a shot that flew over the bar.
But in the second half Sabella recognised his mistake and threw on Higuain and Fernando Gago for Maxi Rodriguez and Hugo Campagnaro.
It was to give the side a better shape and help the overrun Javier Mascherano, playing in central midfield rather than in his Barcelona position of centre-back.
In theory anyway. Bosnia continued to impress, with their minnows staus undermined by the confidence they displayed in passing the ball around. But eventually, class told.
Messi, who had been silent until the 66th minute, stepped up. He took the ball forward from deep, played a 1-2 with Higuain, took the ball sideways and squeezed a low, brilliant strike home, in off the post.
That was it, game over. A moment of magic from the wand of Leo, that the game had been lacking.
Bosnia scored a consolation goal late on, with Vedad Ibisevic squeezing the ball through the legs of Sergio Romero, who should have done much better.
It meant that Messi's second-half strike turned out to be the decider, and it's unlikely that's the last time he'll make the difference at this tournament.
What makes Messi stand out from other players is his ability to make difficult things look so easy.
He was just warming up against Bosnia. Iran, Nigeria and the rest will be quaking in their boots.
Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Campagnaro (Gago 46) Federico Fernandez, Garay, Rojo, Maxi Rodriguez (Higuain 46), Mascherano, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero (Biglia 87).
Goals: Kolasinac 3og, Messi 65.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Begovic, Mujdza (Ibisevic 69), Bicakcic, Spahic, Kolasinac, Besic, Hajrovic (Visca 71), Pjanic, Misimovic (Medunjanin 74), Lulic, Dzeko.
Goal: Ibisevic 85.
Referee: Joel Aguilar (Slovakia)