World Cup - Messi felt 'anxiety and nerves' before wonder goal

Lionel Messi admitted he was feeling the pressure before scoring his wonder goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Lionel Messi (AFP)

'TRADEMARK GOAL'

Messi's run and strike will go down as one of the great World Cup goals, and ended an eight year World Cup drought for the Barcelona star, but the  Argentina  captain admitted he was relieved the team had secured a 2-1 win in the Maracana after a disappointing first half.

Substitute  Vedad Ibisevic  grabbed a late goal for Bosnia - which could yet prove important in terms of qualification from Group F, which also contains Iran and Nigeria.

Messi said: "It's important that we started off on the right foot with the three points, but we do have things we must improve.

"It's not easy with all the anxiety and the nerves, but the important thing is the result. We had a great second half. We had the ball much more, created several opportunities and that's what we have to continue to do."

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella only awarded his team a mark of six out of 10 and said his half-time changes to provide more support to Messi had been crucial.

Sabella said: "On balance I would give it a six. We need to improve and part of that is in my hands - it is up to me.

"The changes at half-time just produced this improvement. They were playing better together and there was more support around Messi. Once Messi received the ball there was better follow-up and better support."

OUR VIEW

Messi had gone 623 minutes without a World Cup goal so scoring in such style is sure to be a massive monkey off his back. However, while it was a vintage goal from Messi, it still was not quite a vintage performance. It is only because he has been so sensational in recent seasons that we now judge Messi on such high standards. If he can rediscover his form from 18 months ago then Argentina could be unstoppable but they certainly need to improve on this display. Alejandro Sabella's 5-3-2 system clearly did not work in the first-half and we are unlikely to see that again, Messi certainly seemed to be somewhat liberated when Gonzalo Higuaín came on and we can expect to see the Napoli striker start from here on in.

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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

With games against Iran and Nigeria to come, Argentina should have plenty of time to play themselves into the tournament. The draw has been kind to them in terms of travel too and they are ideally set-up to go far if they can improve their form. There were enough encouraging signs from Bosnia too to suggest they have a good chance of getting out of the group, with their next clash against Nigeria looking particularly decisive.

REDA MAHER'S VIEW FROM RIO

Messi’s anonymity was crystallised by a dreadful free-kick sent high into the night sky, drawing groans from those who idolise him. A group of supporters rallied behind their man, and he rose to the challenge. With a flash of his heels and a zipping drive, he sent Argentina 2-0 up, arguably against the run of play at that point. He hadn't grown into the match so much as crashed head-first. It was a huge moment for him after an odd season for Barca, announcing his arrival at the World Cup, the one trophy absent from a trophy cabinet embarrassing in its riches. Subsequently, he ran at the Bosnia defence like a man possessed, the divine dribbling skill bamboozling his opponents like a light-fingered card shark on the Copacabana.

[MARACANA THE PERFECT SETTING AS MESSI SHEDS THE MONKEY FROM HIS BACK]

BRAZIL BUZZ

WHAT THE MEDIA SAID

Jonathan Wilson (The Guardian): It was a winning start for Argentina but their victory was not convincing even before a late Bosnia reply from Vedad Ibisevic. This was a scratchy, scrappy performance that raised far more questions than it answered against a disciplined and technically adept Bosnia side who were undone first by a moment of misfortune three minutes in to their first World Cup and then, as they tired in the second half, by a moment of brilliance from Lionel Messi.

Matt Hughes (The Times): For those of us fortunate enough to be at the Maracana, the prospect of returning to this most imposing of stadiums for a dream final between Brazil and Argentina next month became more tantilising. Yet, for long periods, it also seemed slightly more remote. A wonderful solo goal from Lionel Messi will have increased the hopes of his expectant nation — and the fears of Argentina’s opponents as the talisman finally threatens to make his mark on the biggest stage of all — but it ultimately added gloss to a display that had been distinctly patchy.

BRAZIL BUZZ

WHAT THE FANS SAID

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