Argentina defeats Bosnia 2-1 in a tale of 2 halves

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 15, 2014 at 11:10 pm •  Published: June 15, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero are dangerous scorers, but neither was getting many touches in the first half of Argentina's World Cup opener against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

With his team leading 1-0 at halftime because of an own goal, coach Alejandro Sabella ditched his cautious lineup, bringing Gonzalo Higuain off the bench to play up front with Aguero and Messi. Suddenly, the man many consider the world's best player finally looked like a star on the game's biggest stage.

"The first half was very difficult," said Messi, the Barcelona star who has usually played better for his club than he has for his country. "I was alone and Kun (forward Sergio Aguero) was alone just like I was."

After Sead Kolasinovic's own goal in the third minute, Bosnia — playing in its first World Cup — eased into the match and was the equal of the two-time World Cup champions.

"The early lineup took its toll on us," Sabella acknowledged. "It was an even game until we got going in the second half."

To start the half, Sabella put in Higuain for midfielder Maxi Rodriguez, and midfielder Fernando Gago replaced defender Hugo Campagnaro. That gave Messi support, allowing him to step back and find more space to roam and attack on the dribble.

"When Higuain came in the team lifted itself and began to create chances," Sabella said. "But we do have a few things to improve."

Sabella said he wanted to start conservatively out of respect for the skilled and tall Bosnians.

"There are always details you have to fine-tune as the match goes on," he said. "Taking both halves into consideration, I think we were OK. It was the first game, and those are difficult. But we must improve. At the beginning we had few attacking chances and hardly threatened the goal. So we made the changes."

The adjustments paid off almost immediately.

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