Lionel Messi scored a superb goal as Argentina began their World Cup campaign with a win over World Cup debutants Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Argentina went ahead when Messi’s free-kick was put into his own net by defender Sead Kolasinac.
Messi then played a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain, jinked past two defenders and rifled in to make it 2-0.
The goal lifted Argentina and, despite Vedad Ibisevic slotting in late on for Bosnia-Hercegovina, they held on.
All eyes were on Messi in the first game of the tournament at the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio and, even though the four-time World Player of the Year took time to get going, he announced his arrival in sparkling style with his goal.
The strike was his second World Cup goal in nine games and provided the one piece of mesmerising magic Messi managed in a game in which he and Argentina improved the longer it progressed.
The blue and white of Argentina fans was prominent at the spiritual home of fierce rivals and hosts Brazil, although they had to watch on as a disciplined Bosnia stifled their side for most of the first half.
There was huge hype around Messi and Argentina getting their campaign under way, and the forward helped his side take an early lead with his first meaningful touch.
He supplied the left wing free-kick which was flicked on by team-mate Rojo before the ball came off defender Kolasinac and went into his own net.
However, Argentina rarely looked like adding to the goal as they lacked pace and invention, while regularly giving the ball away.
Bosnia slowly settled into the match and created sporadic chances, starting with a Miralem Pjanic shot being punched away by keeper Sergio Romero.
Pjanic also opened up Argentina when he clipped a ball over the top of their defence, which Izet Hajrovic brought down only for Romero to quickly come out and save.
Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano had a powerful low shot blocked away by Bosnia keeper Asmir Begovic before Bosnia again went close to equalising.
Senad Lulic managed to steal in and get on the end of a corner but his low header was palmed away by Romero.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella brought on Higuain and Fernando Gago after the break and the move from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 worked as La Albiceleste had more urgency about them after the reshuffle.
The improvement culminated in Messi’s eye-catching goal. He played a one-two with Higuain before his balance, poise and pace helped him to evade two Bosnia defenders on the way to arrowing in an 18-yard shot off the inside of the post.
Bosnia gave Argentina some late concern when Lulic slipped a pass through for Vedad Ibisevic to angle in a low shot with six minutes left, but Sabella’s side avoided any more scares. (BBC Sport)
Fifa to review goalline technology TV process
Fifa is to review how it broadcasts goalline technology decisions after the process caused confusion during a World Cup game between France and Honduras.
On Sunday in France’s 3-0 win, goalline technology was used for the first time at a Fifa World Cup to aid a decision.
Replays showed a ‘no goal’ graphic before judging the ball later crossed the line after hitting the goalkeeper.
Honduras coach Luis Suarez and his French counterpart Didier Deschamps were left confused by the process.
“The first replay that was used showed the ball hitting the inside of the post and not fully crossing the line, before the next replay aired seconds later with the animation confirming the ball had fully crossed the line after it had hit the goalkeeper,” said a statement from football’s governing body.
“In order to ensure maximum clarity in the future for those unfamiliar with GLT, Fifa will review the coverage of this match with the broadcast production team and GoalControl GmbH, to see if any improvements can be made to enhance the viewing experience for fans.” (BBC Sport)
Reyna believes USA can qualify from Group G
Former United States captain Claudio Reyna believes his nation can reach the last 16 of the World Cup for a second successive tournament.
Germany and Portugal, ranked second and fourth in the world, and 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana are also in Group G.
Reyna, who played in three World Cups, told BBC Sport: “I’ve got a feeling we can do well and get out of it.
“It will take some big performances. But qualifying for the knockout stage would be a huge success.”
The USA, coached by former Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann, begin their World Cup campaign against Ghana in Natal on Monday.
And ex-Manchester City and Rangers midfielder Reyna, who was named in the 2002 World Cup team of the tournament, says Klinsmann’s men should be better prepared than their rivals.
Almost half of their squad – including key players Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley – play for Major League Soccer clubs, who only began their domestic season in March.
“Our players are going to be fresher because of where they are in their training and competition compared to the other teams,” said the 40-year-old, who is now sporting director of New York City FC, the new MLS franchise affiliated to English Premier League champions Manchester City.
“Germany and Portugal’s players, in particular, have played so many games, some are struggling with injuries and they have spent less time together as a team before the first game. (BBC Sport)
Shaibu says Eagles must beat Iran to succeed in World Cup
The former Super Eagles handler has urged Stephen Keshi’s men to go for victory when they square up against Carlos Quieroz’s men on Monday.
Former Nigeria head coach, Amodu Shaibu has said that victory in Monday’s clash with Iran will determine how far the Super Eagles would go at the 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil.
Super Eagles faces Iran at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba in their first group game and will be hoping to surpass their second round feat achieved at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
Amodu who qualified the Super Eagles to the football showpiece twice said that the African champions must work hard for the maximum points in the encounter with Iran stressing that outcome of the game will define Nigeria’s campaign.
“In a way, the match against Iran is very important. Not only is it our first match, which will give a good idea of our readiness to do well in the tournament, it will also present us opportunity to quickly pocket three points and look to add to that in our second match against Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Amodu told journalists.
“I have not had opportunity of being very close to the team recently but I know Keshi has been working very hard and he knows the boys very well and knows the combination that will give him victory. I am optimistic,” Amodu said.
He however advised the Super Eagles to make good use of the blistering speed of Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses in making a mince meat of the Asians defence.
“Many teams now know that we are an attacking team, so they lie in wait for us to come at them, and those that have fast–paced midfielders and forwards then come at us hard on the counter, when we lose the ball.
“I think that, sometimes, we should also lie in wait for other teams and then try to win the ball and shock them with fast runs. We have fast –paced forwards like Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses who can make this work,” he concluded. (goal.com)
Oshaniwa determined to excel in Echiejile’s position
Juwon Oshaniwa is determined to make Elderson Echiejile proud by his performances on the pitch for Nigeria at the World Cup, starting against Iran.
Echiejile, the first choice left-back, suffered a last-minute injury and is not expected to be fit for another three weeks, effectively ruling him out for most of the World Cup.