Heinze goal gives Argentina half-time lead over Nigeria

JOHANNESBURG: Lionel Messi was in irresistible form as Argentina took a 1-0 halftime lead over Nigeria in their Group B World Cup match at Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday.

Only some acrobatic saves from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama prevented Nigeria from going further behind after defender Gabriel Heinze had scored the opener in the sixth minute.

Messi, the world''s best player, brought a series of flying saves from Enyeama in the opening 45 minutes as the two-time world champions often threatened with their excellent passing and running off the ball.

It was a rasping Messi volley tipped over the bar by Enyeama that indirectly led to the opening goal.

From Sebastian Veron''s corner unmarked left-back Heinze hurtled in late and headed powerfully past Enyeama to send the large contingent of Argentine fans wild.

The uninhibited Nigerians had their moments but spoiled their chances with errant finishing with Hoffenheim''s left winger Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi going close on a couple of occasions.

Argentina''s Newcastle United defensive midfielder Jonas Gutierrez picked up a yellow card four minutes before halftime with a scything tackle on Obasi.