Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 in their first game
Gabriel Heinze scored the only goal of the game as Argentina began their bid for a third World Cup success with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria in the Group B clash at Johannesburg's Ellis Park.
The only goal of the came in the sixth minute after some slack marking from a corner and former Manchester United defender Heinze produced a diving header that nestled in the roof of the net. Chidi Odiah on the line could do little to prevent the powerful effort.
Lionel Messi was at his inspirational best as Argentina dominated the match and they had a host of chances to extend their lead but were foiled on numerous occasions by inspired Nigeria keeper Vincent Enyeama.
Indeed inside 37 minutes Messi had already managed as many shots on target as any team did on Friday.
But he found Enyeama his equal, the Hapoel Tel Aviv shot stopper diving full length on three occasions in the first-half to turn curling efforts destined for the net around the post for a corner.
The best chances of the opening period were spurned by Gonzalo Higuain.
As early as the fourth minute, Messi produced a great run down the left channel and from no more than five yards, the Real Madrid striker poked his shot past the post.
And he was also denied by Enyeama who came off his line to smother a close range shot after Messi had released "Pipita" on the right side of the penalty area.
Diego Maradona surprisingly selected Newcastle's winger Jonas Gutierrez at right-back and Nigeria's best openings of the first-half came by exposing his defensive weakness.
After just three minutes Chinedu Obasi jinked past him with ease and unleashed a diagonal drive that whistled past the far corner.
And when Gutierrez was sucked in, the ball fell to the Hoffenheim winger on the left-hand side of the penalty area but he scuffed his shot wide.
It was a similar pattern in the second-half as Messi met Juan Veron's great low cross but he couldn't quite steer his effort into the far corner while Nigeria's zonal marking let them down as for the second time in the match Walter Samuel headed over a very decent chance from a corner.
Messi curled a shot just inches wide of the post after a lightning break from Argentina before Enyeama denied Higuain once more with an excellent stop.
But Argentina were unable to kill the game and Heinze's Marseille team-mate Taye Taiwo came close with a 20-yard toe-poke that whistled just past the far post with the diving Sergio Romero beaten.
Obafemi Martins then stung the palms of Romero with a long-range piledriver - the first real save the Holland-based keeper had to make.
Enyeama made his fifth top-drawer save as he denied Messi from close range before Nigeria spurned their best chance with 10 minutes remaining.
Yakubu picked out Kalu Uche with a delightful cross but the sub failed to get over the ball and hooked his effort over the top from 12 yards having been afforded acres of space by the ageing Argentina defence.
Argentina held on to ensure that Maradona's return to the World Cup stage - 16 years since his last cap against Nigeria in the United States - was a winning one.
1st Half Goals 1-0
Shots on Target 7-1
Shots off Target 9-9
Blocked Shots 4-2
Yellow Cards 1-1
Red Cards 0-0
Passing Success 87.1%-74.7%
Tackles Success 74.2%-86.4%