ARGENTINA 2, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 1 (WORLD CUP GROUP F)
SLOW BURNER FINALLY GETS GOING AFTER ARGENTINA RESHUFFLE AT HALF TIME
An early Bosnian own goal put them on the back foot as both sides employed cautious sides, but Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella gambled in the second half and made attacking changes and were duly rewarded with a fine Lionel Messi goal to put Argentina 2-0 up. Substitute Vedad Ibisevic pulled one back with six minutes to go but it was too late for an equaliser.
It was the biggest stage of the World Cup. but it hosted the dullest 45 minutes of football so far in the tournament despite featuring Argentina and high scoring Bosnia, the tournament’s only newcomers. The atmosphere seemed impeccable, however, as thousands of Argentina fans enjoyed some ‘banter’ with the Brazilian fans in the stadium.
Both sides had made changes to their side with caution in mind. Bosnia had dropped Edin Dzeko’s regular strike partner Vedad Ibisevic in order to pack their midfield while Argentina reverted to a back three to try and counter the Bosnian attacking threat.
The early own goal by Sead Kolasinac, from a 3rd minute Messi free kick that was flicked on by Marcos Rojo, seemed to have becalmed both sides as the game failed to reach the thrilling heights of earlier games in this World Cup. Lionel Messi in particular didn’t reach his usual high standards although Bosnia did try hard to get back into the game.
There was a brief splutter of excitement in the 41st minute when Argentina ‘keeper Sergio Romero had to dive to his left to save from Senad Lulic as Bosnia threatened an equaliser.
Recognising their sluggish first half Argentina blinked first and made a double substitution, introducing a potentially unfit Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago into a more traditional 4-3-3 formation.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero looked as out of sorts as any of his team mates after an injury hit season for City. The few times that Messi found space and helped supply chances he found his fellow forwards in wasteful form or his distribution was poor.
Messi’s best chance was a 64th minute 30 yard free kick after Emir Spahic fouled Aguero in prime set piece territory and was booked for it. Predictably it sailed well over the bar.
Messi finally got it right a minute later when Argentina finally fashioned a quick move, leaving Bosnian defenders in his wake, which he finished with a lashed shot with his magical left foot which took a deflection off a defender and went in off the post and nestled into the back of the net – only his second goal in World Cup Finals.
Ibisevic finally came on shortly after Messi’s goal to join Dzeko up front but Argentina racked up a succession of half chances the best of which was an Aguero-led counter attack which needed Spahic to clear as Messi waited in the centre for the cross.
Ibisevic gave Bosnia something to shout for as the game drew to a close when he scored Bosnia’s first World Cup goal in the 84th minute after his shot squirmed under Romero to at least offer the game an exciting finale.
WORLD CUP STATS SO FAR
This is still a tournament loaded with goals, over twice as many at the same stage in World Cup 2010.
Curiously, there have been no draws so far in this World Cup – not since the last World Cup here in 1950 have there been so many decisive games.
Own Goals is the top scorer after 10 games with 3. More than in the whole of World Cup 2010.
Sead Kolasinac has scored the fastest own goal in WC history, beating Carlos Gamarra’s own goal for Paraguay against England in 2006 off David Beckham’s free kick.