Iceland's hero keeper did homework to psych out Messi

Joann Johnston
June 17, 2018

As for Argentina, time will tell whether this performance proves to be a blip (they lost their opening match at the 1990 World Cup before going on to reach the final) or indicative of their ongoing slump, exacerbated by a clear and obvious over-reliance on you-know-how.

Argentina suffered a heart-breaking loss in the final to Germany in extra time at World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and they'll be focused on getting back to the final this tournament. For a man who makes so much of the attractive game look so easy, penalties continue to haunt him.

Iceland's defense was able to hold through a few more Argentinian attacks, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw with each team earning a point towards advancing towards the knockout stage.

"I looked at a lot of penalties by Messi and I also looked at how I had been behaving in the last penalties".

"It hurt missing the penalty". His penalty added to a run that started with a miss for Barcelona in La Liga last August.

Messi was visibly frustrated throughout the match, especially in the moments that followed his missed penalty kick.

This June 5, 2018, picture shows a poster erected in the West Bank town of Hebron calling for a boycott of soccer star Lionel Messi (l) next to a portrait of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Willy Caballero and his defenders were far too calm on the ball and Iceland's pressure saw them steal possession and have the numbers on their more prestigious opponents.

They appeared to have secured a breakthrough when Polish referee Szymon Marciniak pointed to the spot after Hordur Magnusson brought down Maximiliano Meza in the 63rd minute.

Messi was presented with a chance to win the game from the spot in the 64th minute.

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At the end, Messi retreated alone into the center circle with his head bowed and hands on his knees. The Scandinavian side got the ball wide, before playing in a couple of crosses Argentina failed to deal with.

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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.

Messi just missed a chance before Aguero opened the scoring, creating space on his left and ripping a shot into the goal.

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

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This was the first game in Group D, which looks even more evenly balanced now than it did at kickoff.

While the result was not on the scale of that Iceland produced to eliminate England at Euro 2016, it was a major boost for the tiny nation, who retain hopes of advancing from a group that also includes Nigeria and Croatia.

Iceland are in one of the tournament's toughest groups, featuring Croatia and Nigeria, as well as Messi's Argentina.

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