Playing despite a ruling that favored his club team, Barcelona, Lionel Messiscored one goal and set up another to lead Argentina to a 2-1 victory over the Ivory Coast in its Olympic men's opener on Thursday.
Barcelona and German clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke won their dispute with FIFA when Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the European clubs didn't have to release their under-23 players to their Olympic teams, but the players -- Messi and Brazilians Diego (Werder Bremen) and Rafinha (Schalke 04) -- stayed in China and played in the openers.
Set up by Juan Roman Riquelme, Messi scored late in the first half to open Argentina's gold-medal defense in Shanghai, but Sekou Cisse equalized seven minutes into the second half. Lautaro Acostagave Argentina the win with five minutes left when he knocked home a rebound of Messi's shot.
Brazil struggled to put away Belgium in Shenyang, winning, 1-0, despite finishing with a two-player advantage.