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Jun 15, 2014

Five Aside: Messi at the Maracana

Argentina star Lionel Messi gave his team a two-goal advantage with a perfectly-placed finished off the post.

Five notes from Sunday's World Cup action, a day highlighted by Messi at the Maracana, the French pressing in possession and a Swiss side making comeback history.

Magical Messi

It took until the 65th minute, but Lionel Messi had his Maracana moment. Messi banked a left-footed shot off the post and in for the eventual game-winning goal in Argentina's 2-1 win.

ArgentinaArgentina
Bosnia-HerzegovinaBosnia-Herzegovina
2
1
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Match 11
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The goal was Argentina's first shot on goal of the match and Messi's second-career World Cup goal. His first was almost exactly eight years ago -- June 16, 2006 in a Group Stage match against Serbia & Montenegro.

Messi's production under coach Alejandro Sabella has been outstanding -- he has 22 goals in 26 international games since Sabella became the manager in September 2011.

Messi started his international career with 17 goals in 61 matches under all other managers.

Argentina the fastest so far

Argentina "scored" the fastest goal of this World Cup, an own goal by Bosnia-Herzegovina's Sead Kolasinac in the third minute. The Kolasinac own goal was the fastest own goal in World Cup history, and not the ideal way for Bosnia-Herzegovina to open its first-ever World Cup match.

It was the fastest goal for La Albiceleste since a Gabriel Batistuta goal in the second minute of a 1994 Group Stage match against Greece. Bosnia-Herzegovina scored in the correct net in the 84th minute, when former Saint Louis University Billiken Vedad Ibisevic scored the first goal in the team's World Cup history.

France dominate in attack

Wilson Palacios' red card in the 43rd minute didn't help Honduras, but the French had dominated possession long before Los Catrachos went down a man.

France posted a 220-41 advantage on touches in the attacking third in the entire match, including a 91-22 advantage before Palacios was sent off.

France set tournament highs with 447 touches in the attacking half and 141 passes completed in the final third, while Honduras posted tournament lows in attacking half touches (126), final third passes completed (15) and shots (four).

Karim Benzema has been France's best player in the World Cup.
Karim Benzema was in fine form in France's opening World Cup win over Honduras.

Benzema continues French penalty streak

Karim Benzema notched France's first brace in a World Cup match since Zinedene Zidane against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup Final. Benzema's first came on a penalty kick after the Palacios red card, and the Real Madrid striker buried it like every French player before him in World Cup play.

France has converted 10 straight penalty kicks without a miss or save in World Cup play, most of any country. The French attack was also bolstered by Mathieu Valbuena and Patrice Evra, who each created four chances (twice as many as the entire Honduran team).

Record game winner

Switzerland's Haris Seferovic capped a thrilling comeback in Sunday's first match, a 2-1 win against Ecuador. Seferovic's left-footed finish in the third minute of added time was the latest game-winning goal in World Cup group stage history.

The last player to score a game-winning goal after the 90th minute in World Cup group play was Landon Donovan, whose famous 90'+1 finish against Algeria put the United States through to the knockout round.

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