Lionel Messi scored a goal Sunday. In one context, that is hardly breaking news. Messi is widely regarded as the planet's best player primarily for his goal-scoring ability, averaging nearly one per game over a wondrous career with Barcelona.
On Argentina's national squad, Messi's magic has been less evident, particularly at the World Cup. In 2010, five games, no goals. Four years before, as a teen still developing, he notched one, in garbage time of a five-goal rout.
Only for Messi is the word "slump" associated with such a small window of work. It applies no more. His goal in the second half of Argentina's 2-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina triggered the same dropped jaws, shaking heads and you've-got-to-be-kidding expressions as so many before.
With his cartoonish legs churning faster than anyone else's, he completed a give-and-go play with a teammate, weaved through flailing defenders and uncorked a howitzer of a shot from beyond the box. Goalkeeper Asmir Bergovic stood no chance.
Earlier, it was Messi's free kick that made possible the Argentines' first goal. It careened off a teammate's head, then off the foot of defender Sead Kolasinac and into the net.
There are different degrees of guilt on an "own goal." Some are felonious, as when a player miscommunicates with the keeper on a back pass. This was a misdemeanor as Kolasinac had no time to react and redirect the ball.
Engaged in its first World Cup since the country gained independence 22 years ago, Bosnia-Herzegovina could have brought a just-happy-to-be-here attitude. But it was nearly Argentina's equal, outshooting the favorites, 16-12 overall and 6-2 on goal.
The difference was Messi, whose supposed World Cup drought is kaput.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times