If rising to the occasion is an art, Lionel Messi once again showed that he was a master at that, even as the crowd got the biggest treat of their lives at the Yuba Bharati Kirangan on Friday. He came, he weaved his magic and he conquered the hearts of his millions of fans even as the Venezuela players – especially defenders – watched. PhotosMaking inroads left, right and centre, he had the Venezuela backline in a daze. If he wasn’t going for goals, he was setting up the perfect passes for his striking partners and it was apt that it was from his corner in the 67th min that Nicolas Otamendi headed in at the near post as Argentina beat Venezuela 1-0 in the FIFA international friendly.Even though the debate of his standards as a club and country player might go on till the day he hangs his boot, every Kolkatan at the ground on Friday would vouch that he weaved just magic and nothing else.Argentina meant business from the word go as most of the opening minutes were played in the Venezuela half with the Venezuela strikers soaking in the humid Kolkata weather.But it wasn’t until the ninth minute that Messi crafted his first move towards goal and for once even he would have forgotten that he was miles away from his home as the crowd went berserk. The Argentina captain lived up to the chanting as he dodged passed three Venezuela defenders to set up the perfect ball for Angel Di Maria. But Maria failed to touch the ball, let alone score.advertisementBut that was just the beginning as Messi started putting up an electrifying show, much to the delight of the 80,000-odd football fanatics. He weaved the very magic which has made him a household name across the globe.He was back with another vicious attack in the 18th as he moved in from the right to once again set up the perfect ball for Maria, but Maria failed to match up to Messi’s pin-point pass as he hit the back post, much to the dismay of the fans.Maria was definitely finding it difficult to set the radar as he missed another chance in the 24th. Having tried to set up the perfect passes for his forwards, Messi finally took it upon himself in the 30th to make an inroad into the Venezuela half as the vociferous crowd egged him on. But his weak left-footer wasn’t enough to beat an agile goalkeeper Rafael Romo.Venezuela finally went on the counter in the 34th when Nicolas Fedor moved in from the right to set up the ball for Frank Feltscher. But the pass was a bit too fast for him and he failed to connect. But that didn’t deter them and they had their only attempt at goal – in the first half — in the 43rd when Cesar Gonzalez hit the net with his sharp right-footer.The second half saw a subdued Argentina side as Venezuela started off with more purpose. But all that changed as Messi warmed up after the breather. It was all Venezuela till the 59th before Messi had had enough.Having waited for his colleagues to hog the limelight, he finally took over and went on an attacking spree, moving into the Venezuela half with a hat-trick of attacks in the 62nd, 66th and 67th minute. And it was finally in the 67th minute that it resulted in a goal.Dodging past as many as 4 players, Messi went in for his characteristic left-footer from just outside the box, but Romo came up with a scorcher of a save. But he couldn’t do much to the resulting corner as Otamendi headed home.It was all Argentina from there on as Kolkata’s football fanatics got the best Durga Puja gift they could wish for. Even the referee got so overwhelmed that he called it time with a whole minute left in the game.