Ending drought in super style

The goal was special for me: Messi
Last Updated 16 June 2014, 20:00 IST

The pressure is on Lionel Messi to make this his World Cup, and he could not have started in better fashion than conjuring the marvellous strike that sealed Argentina’s 2-1 win against Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The game at the mythical Maracana in Rio de Janeiro was 65 minutes old when Messi collected possession just inside the Bosnian half of the field and accelerated towards goal.

Messi exchanged passes with Gonzalo Higuain before cutting inside and firing a low shot into the net off a post from the edge of the area to put Argentina 2-0 up, while his marker Muhamed Besic, trailing in his wake, ended up on the floor.

With substitute Vedad Ibisevic later pulling one back for the World Cup debutants, Messi’s effort turned out to be decisive.

It was a goal worthy of winning any game, and they don’t come much better than a World Cup match at the Maracana, especially for Argentina and their colourful, noisy support. And despite that, Messi typically played down his contribution after the game.

“The second goal was special for me because of the occasion, but the result was the most important,” he said after collecting his man of the match award.

“We have things we need to improve but it was a good first game for us to start the World Cup.”

Set to turn 27 later this month, Messi should only now be at the peak of a career that has already delivered so much, including a record goal haul for Barcelona, three Champions Leagues and four Ballons d’Or.

But to cement his legacy as an all-time great, he surely has to match his great compatriot Diego Maradona and lead Argentina to World Cup glory.

Major international tournaments define the greatest players of each generation, and that is something Messi -- a year older now than Maradona was in his 1986 World Cup campaign -- can only be too aware of. 

(Published 16 June 2014, 20:00 IST)

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