Argentina was not exactly fluent, there were umpteen misplaced passes in the final third and its two star strikers, Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuain, look like they should be hosed down with WD-40.
It was a largely sloppy performance from the World Cup contenders. But there was one Messi moment that made it all worthwhile.
Two defenders crashed comically into each other while teammates looked on in horror and a goalkeeper flung himself in vain at a ball that he couldn’t reach with a pole. For the first half, Lionel Messi had looked more like the “Brahmin Boy” than the “Barcelona Brigadier” as he frequently found himself entrapped by dogged Bosnian pursuers.
But one moment of magic ensured a 2-1 win for Argentina and the magic of the Brazil 2014 World Cup gathered momentum.
Over to you, Cristiano Ronaldo.
There was a certain tension in the air throughout the World Cup venues today.
The Swiss again showed their appreciation for exquisite timing after substitute Haris Seferovic’s last minute winner stunned Ecuador 2-1. Pity Ecuador midfielder Michael Arroyo who looked set to score, seconds earlier, but ended up being run over like an old lady during rush hour at City Gate.
Elsewhere France managed a fairly straightforward 3-0 win over Honduras thanks to a clinical double from Karim Benzema. But the French physiotherapist will be a busy man over the next 24 hours after a bruising encounter in which Honduran man-mountain Wilson Palacios was ejected and could easily have been joined by a few teammates.
The feature event was always going to be Messi’s entrance in Brazil though.
Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra set the online world ablaze, two weeks ago, with a gentlemanly bow to the great Argentine. But the Bosnian team was so indifferent to Messi’s fame that its defenders kept mistaking him for the football.
Truth be told, Messi did not particularly distinguish himself either as he struggled to get into a groove without a dance partner for the first 45 minutes. Coach Alejandro Sabella sent on Fernando Gago and Higuain at halftime and he took full advantage of the space they provided with a vintage “Messi moment.”
There was a quick wall pass off a teammate as he zipped inside from the right flank, a stutter that confused a would-be obstructionist and then a strike so accurate and vicious that Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic might as well have stood still and applauded.
A clever late finish from Bosnia striker Vedad Ibisevic prompted some nerves at the death while Argentina’s passing in the final 15 minutes would have made a Pro League coach cringe.
But Argentina supporters could grin and point to one comforting fact.
We have Messi; and you don’t.