Messi’s World Cup moment arrives; goal-line technology boosts France

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Story highlights

Lionel Messi announces his World Cup arrival with brilliant goal for Argentina

Messi's strike lifts Argentina to a 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina

Benzema brace helps France beat 10-man Honduras 3-0 in Group E

Match sees first World Cup goal awarded via the use of goal-line technology

CNN  — 

It was the moment the world had been waiting for, and as he has so often in his glittering career, Lionel Messi delivered.

After a frantic opening to the World Cup in Brazil with entertainment and goals aplenty, one of its gold-plated stars announced his arrival in style.

A trademark slaloming run from the Barcelona striker ended in the fashion soccer fans have become well accustomed to – with the net rippling.

In truth, Argentina were far from their best against the World Cup debutantes Bosnia and Herzegovina despite going 1-0 up thanks to the quickest goal at the World Cup to date.

Sead Kolasinac was the unwitting scorer, diverting the ball into his own net after a Messi free kick was glanced on by Marcos Rojo.

Alejandro Sabella’s men couldn’t build on that early lead though as Bosnia and Herzegovina held their own until the interval.

Argentina’s lead was doubled on 65 minutes thanks to a piece of magic from their talisman.

Messi swapped passes with Gonzalo Higuaín and sidestepped two challenges before firing home off the inside of the post via a slight deflection.

His vigorous celebration perhaps showed the pressure he was under to perform, as the endless comparisons to Argentina’s other world famous player – Diego Maradona – go on.

A goal from substitute Vedad Ibisevic ensured a nervy final six minutes but Argentina held out to secure three important points.

France 3-0 Honduras

The first World Cup goal to be awarded via goal-line technology helped France to a convincing 3-0 victory over 10-man Honduras in Porto Alegre.

Karim Benzema, who had put France ahead thanks to a first half penalty, fired a shot against the post only for Honduras keeper Noel Valladares to inadvertently nudge the ball towards goal.

It was awarded by the referee after goal-line technology – introduced for the first time at this World Cup by FIFA – instructed him the ball had crossed the line.

Replays inside the stadium led to boos from some supporters, as the big screen flashed up ‘no goal’ for the initial effort that hit the upright, then ‘goal’ after the ball had cannoned off Valladares.

Aside from the confusion it was a routine win for an energetic France side, whose task was made easier when Honduras went down to 10 men.

Wilson Palacios, who plays for English Premier League side Stoke, had already been booked when he barged into Paul Pogba, conceding a penalty and attracting a second booking.

Benzema duly dispatched the spot kick as France seized the initiative just before the interval.

Then just three minutes after the break came a landmark moment for the world game when Benzema’s volley from an exquisite Yohan Cabaye pass flashed back off the post.

Valladares tried to parry the ball clear as it hurtled towards him but only succeeded in flicking it over the line, the referee confirming the goal a few seconds later.

Honduras protested and the replays led to confusion but the goal was awarded, four years after the incident in South Africa that led FIFA president Sepp Blatter to change his mind on technology.

A shot from England’s Frank Lampard flicked off the bar and bounced down a yard over the line in their quarterfinal with Germany but the goal wasn’t awarded.

There was no doubt about Benzema’s second, as he fired emphatically into the roof of the net after pouncing on a loose ball, completing a perfect opening night for France coach Didier Deschamps.

Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador

The other game in Group E on Sunday was a tale of two super subs for Switzerland as an injury time winner from Haris Seferovic broke Ecuadorian hearts in Brasilia.

The striker came off the bench to pounce in the dying seconds of the game after another sub – Admir Mehmedi – had canceled out Enner Valencia’s early header.

It meant that after nine matches at the World Cup, there is still to be a draw.

After a low key opening it was Ecuador who struck first, as Enner Valencia planted a firm header into the net from Walter Ayovi’s center.

Switzerland, tipped by many as World Cup dark horses, struggled to get into any sort of rhythm and squandered a succession of set pieces.

But its two-time European Champions League winning coach Ottmar Hitzfeld got his half time tactical tinkering just right and it drew level within minutes of the restart.

Hitzfeld brought striker Admir Mehmedi on for Valentin Stocker and the Freiburg forward nodded home from close range.

Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio saved well from Jefferson Montero before Josip Drmic had a goal ruled out for offside as the match neared a dramatic conclusion.

Ecuador had a great chance to find the net but Michael Arroyo was tackled brilliantly by Valon Behrami, who then launched a counter attack.

The referee played an excellent advantage after Behrami was fouled and the move ended with Seferovic finishing off Ricardo Rodriguez’s low cross.

“We’ve done it, and that’s unbelievable,” Hitzfeld was quoted as saying by FIFA’s website. “We never stopped believing in ourselves. I’m extremely happy with the three points and it means it’s a good start.”