World Cup 2018: Messi flops as Iceland draw with Argentina

first_imgIn one of World Cup history’s biggest upsets, debutantes Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw at Spartak Stadium in Moscow in their World Cup Group D match on Saturday.The teams went to half-time with a 1-1 deadlock after Alfred Finnbogason hit back to cancel out Sergio Aguero’s opener for the South Americans.Aguero fired Argentina ahead in the 19th minute, finishing brilliantly on the turn from 12 metres, but they kept the lead for only four minutes before Finnbogason swept home a loose ball to equalise.Argentina, playing in all-black and roared on by the vast majority of the crowd in a rocking Spartak Stadium, eventually took command, delivering wave after wave of attacks in the second half.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP : FULL COVERAGEYet they actually created few clear chances either side of the poorly-struck 64th-minute penalty by Messi, who drew a blank despite a remarkable 11 shots during the match.Iceland, by far the smallest country by population to appear at a World Cup and inspired by their “thunderclapping” fans, ran and battled tirelessly as they wrote another unlikely chapter in their short but glorious major tournament history.”People say we celebrate when we won a point — wait and see how we celebrate when we’ve won a game,” said Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.Lionel Messi misses penalty a day after Cristiano Ronald’s heroicsMan of the match Halldorsson said he had done his homework on Messi, who has now missed four of his last seven penalties for club and country.advertisement”I looked at a lot of penalties by Messi and I also looked at how I had been behaving in previous penalties, so I tried to get into their mindset, how they would be thinking about me,” he said.Frustrated Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli tried to remain upbeat. “We need to be strong as a group, believe in ourselves and know we have all the tools to beat anybody,” he said.COMMITMENTThe remarkable story of Icelandic football has just witnessed a new chapter!#ISL #VikingClap World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018Iceland signalled their intent from the kick off, sending seven men charging into the box to challenge as the ball was pumped long, leading to just the first of several uncomfortable moments for a decidedly shaky Argentine defence.The South Americans looked more assured in attack, though, and went ahead when Aguero turned tightly in the box and smashed in an unstoppable shot.Iceland stunned the stadium soon afterwards though when keeper Willy Caballero palmed Gylfi Sigurdsson’s low shot straight into the path of Finnbogason, who swept the ball into the unguarded net.After Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Spain on Friday, all eyes were on Messi to respond but he was generally kept at arm’s length by the rugged but controlled Iceland defenders.The great man was given the ultimate opportunity after Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson got entangled with Aguero in the box, only for Halldorsson to fly to his right and palm his mediocre strike clear.Iceland then defended superbly, almost fanatically, with Halldorson making another fantastic full-length save from substitute Cristian Pavon in the dying moments.Iceland’s players rushed to the stands to share their celebrations with their fans and now will have real belief that they can get out of Group D that also contains Croatia and Nigeria, who meet later on Saturday.”This match was a kind of a milestone for this team,” said Hallgrimsson, who vowed pre-tournament that his team would not sit back.”We are bluntly honest in our ability. With a team like Argentina it is just a fact they have players with superior skills.”I think for everyone it is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than to play in a different way and not achieve anything.”(With inputs from Reuters)last_img

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