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Messi misses penalty, as Iceland holds Argentina

16 Juin 2018

Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by minnows and debutants Iceland in their first game at the FIFA World Cup 2018 at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. Sergio Aguero had scored the opener for Argentina in the 19th minute but the lead was cancelled out nearly immediately by Alfred Finnbogason. Birkir Bjarnason had already sidefooted narrowly wide as a deflected cross scooted untended across the box, and the Alfred Finnbogason equalizer came after Argentina had three times failed to clear balls fired across the box.

Magnusson, who only had eyes for the ball, was ruled to have bundled Meza to the floor but Messi missed the chance to put the favourites back in front and Iceland held on for a deserved point.

On Friday, Cristiano Ronaldo came through for Portugal with a gorgeous set piece late in their World Cup opener.

Iceland's fans provided a raucous pre-match build-up in Moscow, singing "Eg er kommin heim" ("I have arrived") and finishing with their trademark Viking clap, and Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson took their first shot within 10 seconds. The forward executed a classy spin move to create his chance when a miscued shot by Marcos Rojo arrived at his feet near the penalty spot.

Iceland's progress and appearance on the football began back in 2011 when Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback took charge.

Messi's miss Saturday was his fourth missed penalty in his last seven attempts for Argentina and Barcelona.

Argentina are hoping to get their WC campaign off to a victorious start before the second-round tie with Croatia.

Iceland could hardly get out of their own half with five minutes to go and were desperately defending for their lives.

But Iceland keeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson read it all the way.

After losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany, Argentina have high hopes to go all the way in Russian Federation.

That team was led by Diego Maradona, of course, and it ended up reaching a final.

- This was Iceland's first World Cup game - Senegal were the last side to win on their debut in the competition (vs France in 2002), while Croatia were the last European side to do so (vs Jamaica in 1998). "It was an uncomfortable match, because Iceland was playing very defensively, blocking all the possible spaces, but we did everything we could for Argentina to win". Halfway through the first period, Alfreð Finnbogason equalized with a straightforward goal in the wake of a goalmouth scramble.

Messi misses penalty, as Iceland holds Argentina