Messi magic delights Maradona
Lionel Messi mesmerises fans and opposition against Nigeria. (AFP)
Johannesburg - "If Lionel Messi is enjoying himself, then so are the rest of us"- that's how Argentina coach Diego Maradona put it on Saturday after Messi produced a mesmerizing performance in a 1-0 win over Nigeria in Group B at the World Cup, in which he was unlucky not to have been rewarded with a goal.
Maradona's tactics for the 22-year-old forward were simple.
"I want Messi to be very close to the ball. As long as he has fun, then we are all going to have fun," Maradona said. "Football wouldn't be beautiful unless Messi is touching the ball all the time. He performed magic today on the pitch."
Messi made a string of trademark weaving runs and curled two left-footed shots that were brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who almost single-handedly kept the FIFA world player of the year at bay.
Enyeama said he had done his homework on Argentina's leading man.
"I've been watching his games in the Spanish league. I got some inside information," Enyeama said. "But he's still the best I've faced in my career."
And it's not just the opposition who are in awe of Messi.
"Incredible. Messi is fantastic. Unbelievable," said Argentina right back Jonas Gutierrez.