13 Jun 2010

Messi shines as Argentina beat Nigeria

6:37 am on 13 June 2010

The World footballer of the year Lionel Messi lived up to his billing with a wonderful performance in Argentina's 1-nil win over Nigeria which confirmed the South Americans' status as one of the World Cup favourites.

Though he did not score, Messi peppered the goal with shots, drawing a string of finger-tip saves, and tormented the Africans' defence with ceaseless dribbling and incisive passes.

The diminutive 22-year-old striker, nicknamed the flea, put in a performance to confound critics who claim maverick manager Diego Maradona can not bring out the best in him.

Though Messi and Maradona and their sensitive relationship have galvanised media attention, it was defender Gabriel Heinze who headed home an early corner for the goal that beat one of Africa's perennial heavyweights in the Group B game.