Lionel lights up the Boleyn Ground

The Boleyn Ground enjoyed a taste of the exotic on Wednesday evening, as a star-laden Argentina side came from behind to down Croatia 2-1.

They turned out in their numbers to see Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi et al and, after a spluttering start, were not to be disappointed.     

The little magician sparkled, intermittently, and, fittingly, struck the decisive second-half penalty to complete the South Americans' turnaround.

Messi converts his second-half penalty in front of the Bobby Moore Stand

There was also the small matter of a certain Tevez gracing the Boleyn Ground once more.The West Ham United favourite joined the fray shortly after the hour, with his every touch greeted with suitably noisy approval from the stands.

Not only was this his first Upton Park outing since November 2012 but also an international return three long years in the making. It was his night and he should have marked it with a goal, dragging an effort wide of the far post after 70 minutes.  

Carlos Tevez received a hero's welcome upon making his Boleyn return

Croatia, for their part, were easy on the eye and a touch unlucky, perhaps. Their opener typified their efforts on the night. Some fancy Mateo Kovacic footwork presented Anas Sharbini with a sight of goal, whose unerring finish into the far corner was delightful. Barcelona teenager Alen Halilovic looked the part too, though the Europeans did most of the defending after the break.

But Argentina, as you might expect, came on strong after the interval and Christian Ansaldi's hopeful blast clattered into Sergio Aguero and beyond Lovre Kalinic. It looked suspiciously like it might have struck an arm, but this was hardly an evening of controversy.  

Christian Ansaldi lets fly to level matters    

Aguero was then felled by the Croat 'keeper, handing Messi the chance to score at the Boleyn from the spot, much to the delight of most of the 19,834 strong crowd. He didn't miss, he rarely does, though he did strike a post late on.  

Among the fanfare was the occasional rendition of bubbles. Incongruous? Perhaps, but Carlos, for one, felt at home.      

Tevez scraps for possession with Milan Badelj