On a hot summer night in Beijing, Lionel Messi scored against Australia just 90 seconds into the game, sending tens of thousands of Chinese fans into raptures.
It was a sea of blue and white Argentina jerseys in the Chinese capital on Thursday night – and nearly all of them had the name Messi on the back.
Every summer, Beijing usually hosts an invitational friendly soccer game. This time, the organisers chose a team headed by a player who could attract attention in China perhaps like no other.
Supporters turned out in their droves, not so much to barrack for this renowned team as to applaud a man who’s long appeared on billboards here, selling all manner of products.