World Cup: Messi uses delicate touch on long ball for first goal

June 26 (UPI) — Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi finally scored his first goal of the 2018 World Cup, netting a score for Argentina against Nigeria on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The score came in the 14th minute of the Group D finale at Saint Petersburg Stadium. Argentina led 1-0 at halftime. Messi used a brilliant touch on a ball from midfielder Ever Benega on the play.

Benega fired a pass, sending the ball more than 40 yards in the air from behind midfield and dropping it right on a sprinting Messi as he neared the box. The FC Barcelona superstar allowed the ball to tap him near the groin, where it softened and landed on his boot.

Messi then cut to his right, before blasting a shot into the far post netting and beating Nigerian keeper Francis Uzoho.

No. 10 almost scored his second goal of the first half in the 34th minute. That time he bent a free kick toward the far post. Uzoho appeared to get a finger on that shot, sending it into the goal post and denying Argentina of a second score.

Sergio Aguero scored the only goal in Argentina’s World Cup opening draw with Iceland on June 16 in Moscow. Croatia shut out Argentina 3-0 on June 21 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

England’s Harry Kane leads all scorers at the tournament, with five goals. Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku are tied for second in scoring with four goals apiece.

Messi won the Golden Ball award at the 2014 World Cup after scoring four goals and tallying an assist.
His first half score on Tuesday was the 100th goal scored at the 2018 World Cup. He now has 65 goals in his international soccer career with Argentina.