Has Lionel Messi finally arrived at the World Cup?

The diminutive maestro eased Argentina’s nerves by scoring La Albiceleste’s second goal against a very game Bosnia-Herzegovina in a nervy 2-1 win at the World Cup on Sunday.

Messi gave Argentina some breathing room in the 65th minute of what was, up to that point, a very close match that had Bosnia-Herzegovina asking questions of La Albiceleste’s resolve.

Argentina fans had their hearts in their mouths again late when Vedad Ibisevic score with six minutes to go, but La Albiceleste saw the match out.

Bosnia-Herzegovina goalkeeper Sead Kolasinac was saddled with an own goal only three minutes into the match as Argentina grabbed an early lead.

Key play

In a possible taste of big things to come, Messi’s scored a beauty in the 65th minute. La Pulga played a great 1-2 pass and darted to the top of the box with enough speed to force two Bosnia-Herzegovina defenders to collide.

Messi then cooly fired a shot off the far post and into the net, sparking frenzied Argentinian celebrations in the Maracana and back home.

Man of the match

Messi. It looked like it was going to be the usual performance in a World Cup match for Messi – flashes of brilliance blanketed by frustrating misses. But he stayed patient until his chance, and took it. It’s a good sign for La Albiceleste, and bad for anyone else with World Cup aspirations.

It was a good day for…

Debuts. Bosnia-Herzegovina wasn’t a spectator in its first World Cup match, giving Argentina fits on defence at times. The Dragons were rewarded with their much-deserved first goal at the World Cup, and should be considered a serious threat to move onto the knockout round.

It was a bad day for…

Sergio Romero. The Argentina keeper didn’t look sharp at all in conceding Bosnia-Herzegovina’s late marker, seeing Sead Kolasinac’s shot squeak right through him and into the net. The second-choice Monaco keeper hasn’t played much this season, and it showed, raising early questions at the last line of defence for La Albiceleste.

The number

1. Number of goals Messi has scored in his two previous World Cups, before his breakthrough on Sunday.

What does this mean?

Argentina’s favoured to win Group F, and La Albiceleste look like they survived their most dangerous opponent in the section. Next up is Iran on Saturday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, Noon ET).

Despite the loss, Bosnia-Herzegovina should fancy its chances to grab second place in the group. To do that, the Dragons need all three points from their biggest obstacle to that goal, Nigeria, who they play on Saturday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, 6 p.m. ET).