RIO DE JANEIRO – Lionel Messi scored a stunning second-half goal to push Argentina to a 2-1 victory over World Cup debutant Bosnia at the Maracana stadium on Sunday in the Group F opener for both teams.
Messi lifted Argentina in the 65th minute, moving in from the right and striking a low left-footed shot off the inside of the post behind Bosnian keeper Asmir Begovic. It was just the second World Cup goal for Messi, adding to one he scored eight years ago in Germany.
Vedad Ibisevic scored a close-in goal in the 85th to give Bosnia hope.
Bosnia got the worst possible start to its first World Cup when Sead Kolasinovic scored an own goal after just three minutes.
Messi sent a free kick from the left flank into the penalty area that Marcos Rojo barely touched before the ball bounced off Kolasinovic's foot into Bosnia's goal.
Bosnia bounced back after the early setback, making Argentina's lead look shaky.
Izet Hajrovic slipped through Argentina's five-man defense in the 13th but couldn't beat goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Five minutes before the break, Senad Lulic tested Romero's reflexes with a well-timed header on a corner kick five.
Meanwhile, Argentina struggled to find ways to create danger as Bosnia gave Messi no space to work his magic.
Coach Alejandro Sabella put in striker Gonzalo Higuain at halftime allowing Messi to take a step back. That shift proved crucial, getting the Barcelona star more involved in the action.
After a string of dangerous runs, Messi combined with Higuain, pulled left along the penalty area, scored with a precision strike off the post. Messi leaped over defender Ermin Bicakic without losing speed and balance before he took the shot.
Second-half substitute Ibisevic put some nerve back in the match when he picked up a pass from Senad Lulic and slotted the ball between Romero's legs.