Messi penalty saved as dominant Argentina held by Iceland

Joann Johnston
June 18, 2018

Lionel Messi had a golden opportunity to regain the lead for his country in the 64th-minute, however the 30-year-old saw his penalty saved. Messi stepped up to take the spot-kick but slapped the ball horribly towards the diving keeper.

Argentina legend Diego Maradona issued a scathing assessment on Sunday (Jun 17) of his country's World Cup draw with Iceland, warning manager Jorge Sampaoli that he would not be welcome back home unless he changes his tactics.

Messi's miserable afternoon in Moscow was complete when he missed a penalty with the score at 1-1, and Mourinho said the spot-kick failure had affected him.

Iceland's Hannes Por Halldorsson in action.

He went equally nuts when Finnbogason's equalizer went in. The two-time World Cup and 2014 runners-up Argentina are prepping up to take part in their 17th finals appearance, while Iceland - the smallest nation of all 32 countries in terms of population with just under 335,000 locals - are making their first World Cup appearance in Russian Federation. "They probably would open a little bit more and we could get more space". That gives us all a few days to replace the blown-out speakers on our laptops.

It was the one moment of class that breached the Iceland defence, who were resolute throughout against opponents with World Cup pedigree behind them.

Despite Argentina's dominance, Iceland held on valiantly to not concede.

The score was already 1-1 when Argentina was awarded the penalty after Hordur Magnusson's tumbling fall over Sergio Aguero as both chased Messi's floated cross. Alfred Finnbogason equalized for Iceland four minutes later after Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero pushed a low cross into the forward's path.

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Hierro's support of his players is admirable, but come on. The way the team came back was excellent with the goals. The ball struck the post before going into the goal.

'We knew from the Euros how important it is to on the board right away if you're going to reach the goal of qualifying.

"I did some homework". And to do that against one of the best teams in the world against the best player in the world, shows that we know something'.

"Evaluating Leo's performance is very hard because they played nearly the whole game in their own half", he said.

While the result was not on the scale of that Iceland produced to eliminate England from 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.

The ball belonged to Argentina for the majority of the first half but it wasn't like Iceland expected anything different.

Messi is yet to win a major global tournament and time is running out with his 31st birthday looming. "I had a good feeling he'd go this way today".

Argentina's opener arrived after a glaring miss at the other end, the late-arriving Birkir Bjarnason carelessly pushing a side-footed effort wide of the target when the ball had broken kindly into his path.

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