Messi played a bit-part role in 2006

The contrast between the Messi of the 2006 World Cup, when he was confined to a bit-part role by then coach Jose Pekerman, could hardly have been greater.

Then, Messi was forced to watch from the bench when Argentina made a limp exit against hosts Germany, who could hardly believe their luck at not having to face him.

Four years on, now World Player of the Year, he set about delighting the fans at Ellis Park with his insatiable appetite for the ball.

Within a matter of seconds he was dancing through the middle of the Nigeria defence to create a first half-chance.

It seemed only moments later when he skipped down the left and teed up Gonzalo Higuain to miss from a few metres out.

Only the alert goalkeeping of Vincent Enyeama denied him a goal that seemed inevitable in the first half, as twice the Nigerian leapt high to his right to get a fingertip to one of those deft strikes from the forward's left foot.

Image: Messi's shot is saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama