As expected, Argentina defeated debutantes Bosnia-Herzegovina in what they hope will not be their last visit to the Maracanã of the tournament, but the Bosnians didn’t make it easy for them. It started brightly enough for Argentina, hitting the ground running with Marcos Rojo’s attempt on goal careering off Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinic and into the goal. The rest of the half proved far more frustrating for both teams, as neither settled into a rhythm and there was very little in the way of goalmouth action. Argentina made two changes at the break and began to find their attacking prowess. Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi all spurned good chances to score before Messi danced past two players in defence before hitting a fantastic shot in off the left post to make it 2-0. Bosnia weren’t done by any means, even at 2-0, and came back into it with five minutes to go as Vedad Ibisivic broke down the left-wing and scored low past Sergio Romero to set up a tense finish. Argentina played keep-ball until the whistle went to earn them the three points.
In the other Group F game, Iran shared the first draw of the tournament with Nigeria in a game that finished 0-0 with very little excitement. Nigeria were the team that played the better football, with Iran setting up a 4-4-2 with intent to defend deep, but couldn’t muster any effort good enough to score. Nigeria had the ball in the net in the first half, but Mikel was judged to have fouled Iranian keeper Haghighi and the goal was disallowed. The Super Eagles brought on Shola Ameobi for his first World Cup game in the second half and he had several chances to hit what likely would have been the winner, but to no avail. In the end a 0-0 result was probably fair, with the immovable force meeting the unstoppable object.
The first round results mean that Argentina will be assured of qualification if they beat Iran on Saturday (5pm, ITV) and will be heavily favoured to given their strong attacking line-up. Bosnia v Nigeria takes place later that night (11pm, BBC) and will likely determine the runners-up in the group. Both teams will fancy their chances of going through with a win, although Nigeria having to face Argentina in their final group game means that despite being at the bottom of the group the Bosnians might still be the better bet for second place.