Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland | 16 Jun 2018

16 June, 2018, 20:36 | Author: Irvin Gilbert
  • World Cup 2018 Argentina vs Iceland Lionel Messi Led Argentina Look To Make Early Statement

Iceland, with a population of only 330,000, is the smallest nation ever to reach the World Cup finals.

Messi failed to give his team the lead when his 64th-minute penalty was stopped by Hannes Halldorsson.

Argentina, not short of support themselves, then kept the ball for the next five minutes and the game had immediately found its rhythm and shape.

"To evaluate and characterize his work is hard", said Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Both Bjarnason and Johann Berg Gudmundsson will feel they could have been calmer when taking aim, but, while Argentina's lax marking allowed the opportunities to be carved out, credit has to be given to the crisp passing that led up to those two chances.

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Sigurdsson had a low shot saved by Caballero as an entertaining first half came towards a conclusion, and the same player blasted a half-volley well wide. Pacific Time at Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia.

The defender has prepared for Iceland's first appearance at the tournament by working in a salt-packing factory in the capital Reykjavik to keep him grounded and focused. Messi was menacing, Iceland unbending. Yet this fails to take account of the coach's experimentation in recent games, while the fact that their EURO 2016 preparations ran a similar course is also encouraging. The key to the match in the first half was based on their left flank, and we were very slow on the ball. With Banega more of a threat going forward, Messi was able to drop deep, where he played the ball from which Maximiliano Meza won a penalty in the 63rd minute. Surely this was Messi's moment.

The keeper also produced a late save to keep out an attempt from substitute Cristian Pavon as Iceland - who also drew 1-1 with eventual winners Portugal in their Euro 2016 opener - held on to clinch another famous result in their footballing history.

Messi was not finished, though. The Barcelona superstar was millimeters away from making it count four years ago in Brazil when Gonzalo Higuain's inability to convert golden opportunities combined with Mario Gotze's extra-time victor left La Albiceleste faithful in tears.

By this stage, Iceland were massed in their defensive third, with Udinese midfielder Emil Hallfredsson magnificent in the destroyer role and the other Sigurdsson, Ragnar, a rock at the back. And there were massive celebrations in the Iceland camp as the final whistle sounded seconds later.

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