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Goal Star Strikers
June 15, 2014
• Estadio Jornalista Mário Filho (Maracanã), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
Referee: J. Aguilar
• Attendance: 74738
S. Kolašinac 3' (own goal)
L. Messi 65'
V. Ibišević 84'
That about marks my end here too, so from me, Keeghann Sinanan, it's goodbye for now.
And that proved to be the winner, as Ibisevic's strike off the bench came too late for Bosnia to rescue a point. Argentina now take an early lead in their group with Iran and Nigeria still yet to play each other.
But after Kolasinac's own goal, out of the blocks came Messi. At the very moment when his supporters began to turn on him, he lit up the night sky over the Maracana with a wonderfully worked goal.
The Albiceleste were made to work for it down to the final second. It was hardly the vintage Argentina that we know that they can be, and in truth, Bosnia made them second best for large spells of the first half.
90' + 4'
An exhausted Bosnia side hack a cross over the bar and that's it! Argentina take the points!
90' + 3'
HITS THE SIDE NETTING! Bosnia are stretched at the back, and Argentina charge forward on a three on two break. Di Maria feeds Messi inside the area, who takes it outside his man but ripples the side netting in a manner that had half the stadium celebrating for a second!
90' + 2'
90' + 1'
Bosnia just can't keep a hold of the ball here. Argentina are doing everything, absolutely everything to keep it out of the final third, and time is simply not on the side of Susic's team.
THREE MINUTES of added time signaled by the fourth official, but it's Argentina who are on the attack next, as Messi, somewhat greedily, decides to go for goal from an impossible angle near the byeline, with a man blocking his path. Blocked easily.
Messi gets some of the treatment that he gets from Liga defenders week in, week out. He has visca beaten for pace, but not before the substitute rakes his studs painfully down his achilles tendon!
Sergio Aguero jogs off in a thoroughly dissatisfied manner. No surprise, given that he's not been at the races, snatching at the few chances that fell his way. On comes Biglia to shore up the midfield for the final haul.
That was Bosnia and Herzegovina's first EVER World Cup goal. And they now have four minutes and change to double that tally in a way that will make the football world sit up and take notice!
Assist Senad Lulic
Goal Vedad Ibisevic
Didn't I say that he could make the difference? He runs around the outside of his man to reach Lulic's nice pass, and has the gap to shoot at the near post. Romero gets a big touch to it, but it somehow bobbles in anyway!
IBISEVIC HAS ROLLED IT IN! BOSNIA HAVE ONE BACK!
The counter attacking opportunities continue to present themselves for the Albiceleste. This time it's Di Maria who has the step on the defence, but his pass for Messi is too weak and easily anticipated.
GOAL SAVER! Bosnia's attack collapses like a line of dominoes, and that sparks Argentina on the counter. Messi charges forward with the ball at a velocity that I haven't seen in months, and he plays in Aguero on the left. Higuain is peeling towards the back post and Aguero drills the ball towards him, but the Bosnia and Herzegovina captain slides the ball out just before Argentina could pull the trigger!
Already some sights of a few in blue and yellow making their way up the stands to the exits. A tough game for the Bosnian fans to watch. Their team had their moment, but a clinical touch betrayed them.
I fear that this game is just beginning to move beyond Bosnia now. They need a goal and FAST, but Argentina are slowing the play down, and in fact, have created the better chances since doubling their own advantage. Susic looks pissed off on the touchline.
Messi coaxes a good ball over the top for Higuain, who makes a darting vertical run to the far post. He escapes his man and the flag stays down, but he can't contort his body to steer the ball anywhere but over the bar.
Aguero has the step on Kolasinac from the centre circle, and takes it down the outside of the left back all the way to the edge of the box. He lets fly, but Begovic can watch it wide.
Another change for Bosnia, Mismovic started the game brightly, but rather drifted to the outskirts of influence as time wore on. His replacement is Medunjanin off the bench. Susic has played all his cards now, no subs left in the bank.
Almost four up front for Bosnia now, as Ibisevic and Dzeko through the middle are supported by wingers Lulic and VIsca, who are pushing very high up the flanks of the Maracana pitch.
It's increasingly looking like Argentina's game to lose. The goal from Messi has loosened up their ranks like a soak in a hot tub, and with Bosnia having to leave themselves thinner at the back to commit numbers forward, there are gaps to be exploited.
And the guns are blazing here from Susic, who throws another attack minded substitution into the fray. Hajrovic has been active but plum out of luck in front of goal, and he departs for the 24-year-old winger Edin Visca, who plays for Istanbul BB in the Turkish second division.
Here comes that change from Susic that surprises no one. Off goes the right back Mujdza, and on comes the Stuttgart hitman Ibisevic. He goes straight up top alongside Dzeko, and it's surely caution to the wind time for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Poor Bosnia have been done in here. They were the better side for large spells, but couldn't get that equaliser when they were one goal down. And now with two goals to chase to get back into this, their molehill has just turned into a mountain.
Eight years less a day since his first World Cup goal, Messi has doubled that tally in magnificent fashion. Just when the knives were coming out, just when his own fans were muttering, he reminded the world not to mess with him. His name is now ringing from the rafters.
Assist Gonzalo Higuaín
That's the Messi that has brought defenders all over to heel! Starting the move around the centre circle, he links with Di Maria and Higuain before dancing past his marker on the top of the box, and lashing a gorgeous shot into the bottom corner via the post!
OH YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! MAGNIFICENT FROM MESSI!
Bah, how anticlimactic was that? Messi steps forward to hammer the free kick into the stands, and for the first time, the groans and whistles are audible from the stands! Can he hit back?
Bah, how anticlimactic was that? Messi steps forward to hammer the free kick into the stands, and for the first time, the groans and whistles are audible from the stands! Can he hit back?
Yellow Card Emir Spahic
Messi on the ball now in a promising position. Di Maria has left to go joining the throngs in the box, setting it all up for Leo...
Aguaro caught from behind, and Argentina have a free kick. Aguero is certainly rolling around like he just got his achilles slashed, so the referee soon obliges him by showing Spahic a yellow card.
Messi's starting to outline his presence in this game. Dancing with the ball at the top of the penalty area, he waits for the defence to collapse around him before squaring to Aguero on the left. The shot from the Man City man is low and on target, but Romero smothers amidst a crowd of bodies prowling for the rebound.
Messi looked to have had the step on the last defender for just a moment, but Romero is on his bike quicker, and smothers the ball just inside his box. Cynical Barca fans would tell you with a grimace that running is probably not in Messi's nature anymore.
Bosnia win two corners one on top the other, and the second one looks promising for a second when Misimovic wonderfully flicks the ball into Lulic's path near the byeline. The big boys are lining up in the six yard area, but Lulic blasts the ball wildly over the lot of them.
Back to that last half chance for Argentina. Messi's been well marked, yes, but he now has an extra man up top in Higuain to release the ball too. The Napoli striker hasn't been involved yet, but should Bosnia continue to commit multiple men on Messi every time he's on the ball, then the chances may start to appear.
A belated glimpse of something positive in attack for Argentina is immediately drowned when Aguero blazes over from just inside the box. He was left in space thanks to Messi sucking in three defenders before releasing the ball.
That man Hajrovic certainly doesn't need any coaxing to have a go on goal. He lets fly again from distance, but once again, it's right into the grasp of Romero. I don't blame him entirely though, given his long range cracker against Slovakia in that crucial qualifier that helped get BIH here in the first place.
It's not like Argentina aren't getting men forward, it's just that they seem to have no idea what to do with themselves once in range of goal. Do these guys even hang out off the pitch? They look like strangers in attack. Sabella better organize some extra practices, and a few PlayStation bonding sessions to boot.
Most of the action so far has been concentrated down in the Argentina half of the field. With Argentina depleting their defence to put an extra man up top in Higuain, how long until we see Ibisevic on for Bosnia to overload Sabella's back four?
Hajrovic takes aim from a 25 yard free kick, and his effort sneaks through the gap created by Di Maria's untimely rush from the wall. However, Romero spots it through that same gap, and gets in position to catch.
A significant tactical reshuffle required by that double dose of subs. Argentina have reverted to a more conventional back four with Campagnao out of the game. Still a midfield three with Mascherano, Di Maria and new addition Gago, but Higuain joins Messi and Aguero to make three up top.
Two changes at the interval from Alejandro Sabella, and not a surprising one given the clogged toilet that was their effort in the final third. On comes the clinical Higuain, who will replace Maxi Rodriguez. Also departing is Hugo Campagnaro, who is replaced by Fernando Gago.
I wouldn't be surprised to see some attacking changes from both sides. Higuain and Lavezzi could freshen up this musty Argentine attack, while Ibisevic can add another big body up top for BIH, who have already troubled Argentina with the aerial game.
Not a damn thing from Messi. A terrible start to the World Cup for the Argentine talisman. Bosnia and Herzegovina have muzzled him throughout. Wasn't he supposed to be saving himself for this? We know he's much better than that.
Sergio Romero has by far been the busier keeper, responding to a few decent chances from the opposition, with a Lulic header the highlight. Bosnia have done everything right except score.
The tightest of games to call. Argentina took the lead via a hard luck own goal off Kolasinac, but since then, they haven't come close. Bosnia have controlled greater portions of the midfield battle.
45' + 1'
Nothing doing for the Albiceleste, as Bosnia defeat their latest attempt on their goal, and launch a counter attack of their own. Dzeko wins the header from Pjanic's ball, but there's not enough time for a teammate to latch onto it. And with that, injury time is over and we head into the break.
One minute of added time signaled to end this half, and Argentina, on the ball, look to launch a final attack against the determined Bosnian ranks. Mascherano again on the ball.
Signs of life from Messi at last. Collecting the ball in his typical zone on the right edge of the box, he shows atomic control to wiggle past two players before attempting to square to Aguero, but Bicakcic clears!
Rojo gets on the end of a good ball in a deep overlapping run on the left, but not one of his teammates can keep up to meet the ball in toe box. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, as he clipped it within plucking distance of Begovic.
Argentina is narrowly on top in terns of possession, holding 56 per cent of the ball as per Fifa. If you've been watching this game like I have, that doesn't sound right at all, but multiple sources are confirming this. Guess the eye test isn't foolproof.
ROMERO HAS TO GET DOWN! The resulting corner is pinged into the near post, and attacked with some anger by Lulic. He gets it well on target, but the Monaco keeper parries!
Hajrovic has been a busy bee on the right hand side. He wins a corner thanks to another direct run that forces the defence, in this case Rojo, to clear out over the byeline.
Mascherano is seeing too much of the ball here. Not enough of it for Messi and Di Maria. Bosnia have done a magnificent job of denying the Liga pair a modicum of space in this game.
Bicakcic and Aguero both are back on the field after that minor incident, and Bosnia can resume their attempts to break down the Argentine defence via the midfield lines.
Bicakcic is taken down by an unwilling forehead smash from Aguero, after the pair both went up for a high ball. He needs a moment to massage his noggin, that couldn't have felt pleasant!
If you just tuned into this game from under a social media rock, you would be forgiven for thinking that Bosnia were the side holding the one goal advantage. They've been playing Argentina off the park in the middle of the pitch. Only missing that goal, and the chances are getting better.
Worth repeating again how disjointed the Argentina attack has been. Yet another one breaks down with a poor final pass that was nowhere near the run of the intended recipient.
OVER THE TOP! Dzeko takes Hajrovic's pass in his stride and in a decent radius of space at the top of the box. The temptation for someone else might have been to play in the unmarked Lulic on the left, but strikers are never wired that way, are they? Over the bar by a few feet in the end from the Manchester City forward.
Another Argentina attack almost breaks down when Aguero's cutback is too strong for Rodriguez. The ball breaks for Mascherano, who test Begovic with a saveable 20 yarder. If Masch is the man trying to test your keeper, then the defence is doing something right.
We have barely seen anything from Argentina in the attacking third since their goal. Maxi Rodriguez accepts a Messi pass with glee, but sends his shot into orbit. Not quite 2006 vs Mexico.
Lulic suddenly bursts into life on the left hand side, ghosting past the outside of the last defender to latch onto a lofted diagonal ball from the opposite flank. The flag is up though, and Romero blocks the winger's finish with a strong chest for good measure.
Bosnia have clearly read the scouting report, and are targeting the Argentina back line by launching balls into the heart of the area at every opportunity. That's bread and butter for Dzeko usually, but he hasn't had much to really sink his teeth into as of yet.
It's lifted into the 18 yard area by Hajrovic, and Besic looks for a second to be on to it for the finish, but it all happened too fast for him, and there were too many Albiceleste bodies in the way.
Yellow Card Marcos Rojo
Rojo, who helped force Kolasinac's own goal by connecting with Messi's free kick, now gets pulled up for something negative. A careless free kick in the middle gives Bosnia another free kick, and him a yellow card.
Things have slowed down on the pitch as both sides exchange more measured spells of possession. Dzeko wins an aerial duel against Fernandez on the corner of the box that gets the Bosnia fans off their feet, but no one in blue can latch onto the flick.
We haven't seen much from Lulic on the left wing for Bosnia. Given Zabaleta's willingness to push forward, he will have space to exploit, especially with chief suppliers Pjanic and Misimovic looking like they're in the mood. Something to watch for BIH.
Whisper it quietly, but Messi looks a bit hesitant on the ball! For the second time tonight, he's provided with the rock in a decent position close to goal. And again, he hesitates,which allows Kolasinac the time to get back and slide it off his toes!
Once again, it's been an utterly absorbing tempo to the match so far. Bosnia look more than capable of a goal here. Argentina's weakness has always been their defence, which pales in talent to the world class names that typically rack up the goals and assists at the other end.
Spahic chases down a ball ahead of Aguero in the box, but his clearance can only fall to Messi right on the edge. He shapes to shoot, thinks better of it and then tries to thread in Di Maria, but the defence intercepts.
Safet Susic must be ECSTATIC with what his team have offered since going behind. Their response has been swift and purposeful, and they've caused more problems than the opposition have caused them.
It's a really solid free kick position for BIH, but Pjanic can only slam his free kick into a blue and white shirt. He'll be back though - the Roma man has quietly tormented Mascherano already.
Misimovic is starting to get that glint in his eye. Immediately after that Hajrovic chance, he deftly shimmies past Mascherano, only to be fouled unglamorously by the midfielder.
BOSNIA MAKE ARGENTINA SWEAT! Pjanic clips an otherworldly ball over the top of the back three that finds Hajrovic COMPLETELY onside. His first touch should have put him one on one with Romero, but instead, he just can't touch it away from the onrushing keeper, and the Albiceleste breathe again.
There you go, the proof is in the pudding. Zabaleta attempts to beat Kolasinac to the byeline, but the left back holds firm, and forces the Manchester City man to simply tun out of pitch.
Kolasinac hasn't look too fazed since his stroke of cruel misfortune, as he's been sturdy on the left flank, while he's also been spotted overlapping to the opposite box on more than one occasion.
Mascherano is seeing a lot of the ball early here at the base of the Argentine midfield. That's some credit to the work of Bosnia so far in pressing the Albiceleste to habitually reset their attacking possessions.
Mascherano caught with his hand in the cookie jar right on the centre circle, and is robbed of the ball neatly by Mismovic. Not so tidy is Masch's retaliation challenge, which the ref immediately pulls him up for.
Some encouragement for Bosnia here. So far in this World Cup, the team that has opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes has gone on to lose. It's been a tournament of comebacks.
Bosnia to their credit are attempting to hit back down at the other end of the field. They win a corner on the right, but Pjanic just fails to pick out a teammate in a threatening position.
Kolasinac by the way has scored the third own goal already in this World Cup in this, the 11th game of the tournament so far. Quite a record, and yet again, we won't be seeing a goalless game here in Brazil. You won't hear me complaining too hard.
Own Goal Sead Kolasinac
A CATASTROPHIC start for Bosnia! A free kick from the left foot of Messi was headed on with little conviction by Rojo, but poor Kolasinac could only watch as the ball rebounded off his shin and into the back of the net!
It didn't seem much when Mujdza gave away that free kick on the left hand side, but the marking wasn't the best from Bosnia, and a stroke of misfortune has seen them punished ruthlessly.
ARGENTINA IN THE LEAD ALREADY!
We get underway in the legendary Maracana for the first time in the World Cup since 1950!
The anthems have been sung with typical gusto, and Salvadorian referee Joel Aguilar is about to kick us off.
Nine days shy of his 27th birthday, this may be Messi's last World Cup at his absolute peak. Though his substandard season at Barcelona was well documented, there is a vocal minority that claim that he was reluctant to over exert himself in preparation for this very tournament. It's all set up for him to carve his name in the historical pantheon, starting tonight in Rio de Janeiro.
For Argentina, their appearance in the final is met with great expectation. And it really doesn't get higher than the historical consequence for Lionel Messi. He's always been dogged by his relatively poor international record, failing to lead Argentina past the quarter finals in any of their previous finals appearances with him in the team.
As I mentioned, this is Bosnia's first ever appearance at a World Cup finals. There's been plenty of history riding behind their participation, as the Bosnian War during the 1990's took a heavy toll on all these players. In fact, Dzeko was the only man in the starting XI to grow up in the country - the war forced everyone else abroad.
Not a spare seat expected in the Maracana, as Argentina prepare to visit what is literally the lion's den for them - the most iconic stadium in the most iconic city of their greatest rivals. There's been reports of very minor clashes between the police and the Albiceleste fans in the streets of Rio, but I don't think that anyone will be too badly behaved. Or at least, I hope not.
Not too many familiar names on the Bosnia and Herzegovina bench for neutrals, though arguably the most important is Vedad Ibisevic. The 29-year-old striker does his club work for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and with 20 goals in 55 international appearances, he is certainly a good bet for offensive impetus late in the game.
An expected lineup from Bosnia coach Safet Susic, with Manchester City's Edin Dzeko doing the heavy lifting up front. Key for the World Cup debutants will be his combination with Roma star Miralem Pjanic, while Asmir Begovic, the highly rated Stoke City goalkeeper, lines up between the posts.
It's a back five from Alejandro Sabella as well, with Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo expected to provide the width in the final third. Javier Mascherano, as he usually does with La Albiceleste, anchors the midfield, while on the bench, goals beckon with Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Of course, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi, who leads the line for Argentina alongside Sergio Aguero. Angel Di Maria will provide immediate support from an advanced role, and the form of this trio will determine Argentina's fortunes during this tournament.
BOSNIA SUBS: Fejzic, Avdukic, Sunjic, Vranjes, Vrsajevic, Susic, Ibricic, Medunjanin, Salihovic, Hadzic, Visca, Ibisevic.
ARGENTINA SUBS: Gago, Biglia, Perez, Higuain, Orion, A.Fernandez, Demichelis, Palacio, Alvarez, Andujar, Lavezzi, Basa.
BOSNIA (4-5-1): Begovic; Mujdza, Spahic, Kolasinac, Bicakcic; Hajrovic, Pjanic, Misimovic; Besic, Lulic; Dzeko.
ARGENTINA (5-3-2): Romero; Zabaleta, Campagnaro, Fernandez, Garay, Marcos Rojo; Mascherano, Maxi Rodriguez, Di Maria; Aguero, Messi.
Starting XI's? Why not!
The Maracana is the venue. Argentina vs Bosnia and Herzegovina is the game. And I, Keeghann Sinanan, am your host. Join me for all the action from the most famous football venue in the world!
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