World Cup Roundup: Messi leads Argentina to 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina
Messi figured into both of Argentina's goals Sunday in a 2-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Maracana. The win puts the South American side at the top of the Group F table.
Argentina's first goal came in the third minute, when Messi played a free kick from the left side into the box. The ball was inadvertently turned into the back of the net by defender Sead Kolasinac for an own goal and a 1-0 lead to Argentina.
In the second half, Messi delighted the crowd with a perfectly placed strike. Running parallel to the top of the 18-yard box, the superstar forward delivered a left-footed shot that beat keeper Asmir Begovic, rang off the left post and caromed into the net. The tally proved to be the match-winner.
Bosnia and Herzegovina got a goal back in the 84th minute. Senad Lulic played a through ball into the left side of the box, where Vedad Ibisevic beat keeper Sergio Romero through the legs to halve the deficit. But Argentina held firm to secure the win.
In other Sunday action…
Switzerland 2, Ecuador 1: Sunday's Group E opener was headed for a draw until Switzerland stole a victory in the waning seconds.
With the match even at one goal apiece and the teams playing in the third minute of added time, Ricardo Rodriguez played a cross into the six-yard box at the near post. Haris Seferovic met the ball and banged it home past the helpless keeper Alexander Dominguez to lift Switzerland to an improbable win.
Ecuador scored first on Enner Valencia's 22nd-minute header and maintained the lead heading into halftime. But Switzerland equalized three minutes after the break on Admir Mehmedi's header.
That set the stage for the sixth-ranked Swiss' late dramatics in Brasilia, Brazil.
France 3, Honduras 0: Four years ago, France finished last in its group with a 0-1-2 record and only one goal scored. There will be no such futility for Les Bleus in 2014. Karim Benzema scored in each half and factored into an own goal in France's 3-0 win over Honduras on Sunday.
The Real Madrid forward converted a 45th-minute penalty and bookended the scoring by roofing a shot past keeper Noel Valladares in the 72nd.
France's second goal required the use of FIFA's goal-line technology. Three minutes after the restart, Benzema shot across the face of goal off the right post. The ball seemed to straddle the line as it caromed toward Valladares on the left post. But as the keeper reached to corral the ball, he inadvertently knocked it into his own net. The technology confirmed the ball crossed the line by the slimmest of margins.
The French will take on Switzerland in their next match on Friday. Honduras will square off against Ecuador.
A look ahead to Monday's matches...
The Group of Death begins play Monday, with title contender Germany kicking off at noon and the United States finishing the day with its World Cup opener.
Noon, Germany vs. Portugal: What is the status of Portugal's star Cristiano Ronaldo? The answer to that question could go a long way in determining the Group G picture. Ronaldo, who has been battling injury, is one of the world's best players. But if he's less than 100 percent health-wise, Portugal may not have the ability to stay with Germany. The Germans boast one of the world's best and deepest rosters, and are among the favorites to play for the title in about a month.
3 p.m., Iran vs. Nigeria: The Group F tilt is a bit of an afterthought given the quality of Monday's schedule, but a win for either side could shake things up a bit. Nigeria was winless in South Africa and finished last in its group. Iran hasn't qualified since 2006, when they also went winless in Germany.
6 p.m., Ghana vs. United States: By now, the storylines are clear. The United States opens its World Cup slate with a match against Ghana, which has eliminated the Americans from the previous two competitions. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has also declared that his team can't win the tournament in Brazil. With that as the backdrop, the U.S. has plenty of questions to answer Monday in Natal. What will the defensive back four look like? What is the shape of the midfield? How will Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey play off one another? A loss in the opener will spell trouble for the U.S., while a win will have a big impact on the group picture.