It may not have been their best game, but Argentina did just enough to knock off a frisky Bosnia-Herzegovina side in their opening match of Group F play.
Things got off to about as bad a start as could be for the Bosnians, who were making their World Cup debut. As a free kick from Lionel Messi curled into the box, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s leaping Marcos Rojo had the ball skim off his head, carom off the leg of defender Sead Kolasinac and roll into the back of the net hardly three minutes into the game:
Things really settled down after that, with the Argentinians dictating the pace but Bosnia doing a nice job battling in the middle of the field. They created a few chances of their own on the attacking end, but the first half ultimately ended at 1-0.
The second half proceeded much as the first, with Bosnia packing in their defense and frustrating the dynamic Argentina attack. The Albiceleste had a difficult time maintaining possession in the attacking third, but at last broke through in the 65th minute when Messi took a lovely flick from Gonzalo Higuain and finished cleverly from 18 yards out:
Messi immediately began to break forward with confidence, with Argentina generating several additional chances genereated by their midfield maestro. A quick counter, though, allowed substitute striker Vesad Ibisevic to get in one-on-one with Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero and score an historic goal:
The 84th minute tally halved the deficit, but Argentina were able to kill off the game from there, with Bosnia-Herzegovina never mounting another serious threat. Argentina’s switch to a 4-3-3 formation at halftime made all the difference, opening things up for Messi and allowing them to play a more free-flowing style of attack.
Bosnia-Herzegovina will be pleased with the way they defended, and can look ahead to games with Iran and Nigeria with a real sense of confidence.