Lionel Messi weaved his magic though without scoring as he played full 90 minutes to enthrall the football-crazy fans in Argentina's 1-0 victory over Venezuela in a FIFA international friendly at Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata today.
The 1,20,000 capacity stadium did not see a packed house, a common sight during the local Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal derby but it had enough Messi elements for a real treat for the nearly 75,000 spectators at the venue and many more on television across the country and abroad.
Messi sparkled throughout the match, though Venezuela kept the Argentines under pressure.
It was in the second half, a 67th minute goal by Nicolas Otamendi from a Messi corner that sealed the issue for the Argentines.
The Argentine approach was more restrained in the first half as new coach Alejandro Sabella, in his maiden appearance at the helm of affairs for the Albicelestes, gave more stress on the ball possession and passing.
They dominated the midfield, with some magical Messi footwork but failed to translate into goals as the final pass or the shot was lacking.
But the spectators had a lifetime of a treat with some real Messi moments.
Early into the start, the spectators were left mesmerised by a clever Messi footwork off a foul at the top of the box but the FC Barcelona talisman could only found the wall from his powerful left-footer in the fourth minute
Five minutes later, Argentina got the first real chance but the Real Madrid medio Agnel D'Maria nearly put it in the goal before an alert Venezuela defender averted the danger. It also had the Messi element in it as the little genius nearly had it through Di Maria but only in vain. There were some real Venezuela sparks as well but their inexperience showed with some wasted efforts.
In the 16th minute, Jose Salomon Rondon wasted a golden chance inside the box as he failed to connect a fine pass from the wide without even testing Argentina goalkeeper Romer.
In the 34th minute, Venezuela had a real possibility as Feltscher nearly put them up with a solo effort from the right side of the box.
Messi's second real chance came in the 29th minute, in fact it was a better one. It was a grounder that went straight to the goalkeeper.
Messi kept squatted, regretting what went wrong. But the spectators knew there is more to come as cheers of 'Messi... Messi..." reverberated in the stands.
A little earlier, Messi stole the ball from Amorebieta in the box before a little dash towards the middle, but his low shot was stopped calmly by Romo.
Messi played for the full 90 minutes to enthrall the crowd though the football-crazy spectators could not see a goal from the world's current best footballer.
Argentina: Sergio Romero, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Luis Gonzalez (Jose Sosa, 69th), Javier Mascherano, Ricardo Alvarez (Javier Pastore, 61st), Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain (Sergio Aguero 73rd), Angel Di Maria.
Venezuela: Rafael Romo, Fernando Amorebieta (Andres Tunez 85th), Roborto Rosales, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Gabriel Chicero, Cesar Gonzalez, Tomas Rincon, Angel Flores, Frank Feltscher (Yohandry Orozco, 70th), Nicolas Fedor, Jose Salomon Rondon.