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Argentina vs Iceland : Messi subdued by muscular Icelandic defence

16 June, 2018, 22:12 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Hannes Halldorsson's second half penalty save from Lionel Messi kept Iceland in the contest

This was Iceland's first ever goal in a FIFA World Cup!

Argentina seemed to have its breakthrough in the second half when Aguero went down after a collision and earned a penalty.

Iceland may be the smallest country to ever qualify for the World Cup, but they proved they can play with the best in the world with a opening draw against Argentina that included a crucial missed penalty kick by Lionel Messi.

Friendlies against Nicaragua and Israel had to be cancelled due to safety concerns so Iceland will aim to take advantage of any rustiness in their first game at a World Cup finals.

Without him they were beaten 6-1 in a friendly against Spain in March and they have only played once since, beating Haiti 4-0, with Messi scoring another treble. Messi placed his shot to the right of Hannes Halldorsson, but the Iceland goalkeeper dived and got two hands behind the ball.

Messi found Banega on the edge of the area as the hour approached, but his shot was blocked by Ragnar Sigurdsson and Messi's follow-up cross was hammered clear.

Hannes Thor Halldorsson's homework paid off as he saved a penalty from Lionel Messi to help Iceland clinch an unlikely point against Argentina. Di Maria was simply lost in the game whereas Messi was kept at bay by a spirited Iceland team.

Lionel Messi is joined in Argentina's attack by the fit-again Sergio Aguero to face Iceland at Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

Iceland played its debut on soccer's biggest stage like it belonged alongside the 2014 runners-up.




Could Iceland go further than Argentina in Russian Federation this summer?

Messi had a chance to get the victor for Sampaoli's men ten minutes before time with a curling strike from just outside the box but guided his effort slightly wide.

Iceland then defended superbly, nearly fanatically, and when substitute Cristian Pavon did break through in the dying moments, Halldorsson made another fantastic full-length save to touch his shot clear.

It was a finish worthy of Argentina great Diego Maradona, who was watching in the VIP section at Spartak Stadium.

The Scandinavians had only 25 per cent of the possession in the first half but created the better chances against a suspect Argentine defence.

"He's very fit, well prepared and looking forward to this World Cup and he hopes to be able to achieve his dream", he said.

Iceland, meanwhile, will believe that both Croatia and Nigeria are beatable as they look to build on their reputation as a burgeoning force in world football.

They hit on the counter and gave Argentina a scare when Bjorn Sigurdarson pounced on a loose ball only to rifle his shot just wide of the post.

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