And, suddenly, he was free. His tormentors were in a heap, the ball was in the net, and Lionel Messi was racing off towards the corner flag, chased only by delirious team-mates, unburdened at last at this World Cup.
It was only 65 minutes in, but it had seemed an age. Nothing was going right. Free-kicks had flown recklessly over the bar, darting runs had been snuffed out almost at first thought.
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