Maradona pours scorn on Argentina coach after Iceland draw

18 June, 2018, 01:36 | Author: Angelina Schmidt
  • World Cup 2018 Argentina vs Iceland Lionel Messi Led Argentina Look To Make Early Statement

And so Messi, whose entire life seems to be mapped out in constant comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo, became once again the center of the story.

It would prove costly as Iceland - the smallest nation ever to compete at a World Cup - held on to frustrate Argentina in their Group D opener.

Sergio Aguero scored an eye-catching opener for the two-time world champions in the 19th minute but it was nearly immediately cancelled out by Alfred Finnbogason, whose team then held on in the face of huge pressure. The best chances in the early stages of the first half came when Nicolas Otamendi and Nicolas Tagliafico both had glancing headers fly wide of the post. Messi stepped up to take the spot-kick but slapped the ball horribly towards the diving keeper.

Argentina had pulled out of the pre-World Cup match against Isreal owing to rising protests and threats from Palestinians for the venue for the game was changed to Jerusalem from Haifa.

But the Barcelona ace's lackluster record on penalties continued, as he stepped up and fired a weak shot at the ideal height and velocity to gift Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson an easy save. At Iceland, we are fewer and most of us are really good close friends.

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The point won against Argentina creates a "more relaxed atmosphere and easier sleep" in the run-up to Iceland's next tie against Group D opponents Nigeria in Volgograd on Friday, said Hallgrimsson.

"I believe it was a fair result, I think Iceland played on their limits".

He refused to single out Messi for his penalty miss.

Sergio Aguero had fired the beaten finalist from four years ago ahead in the 19th minute, finally breaking his World Cup duck at the ninth attempt with a rising left-footed drive.

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You're not likely to get an argument from Messi, who will be dogged by visions of Halldorsson blocking the penalty that could have given Argentina all three points. But when all the world thought he was about to score, Hannes Halldorsson, a man who before now was known for making a video for a Eurovision act, saved the surprisingly weak spot kick.

He said: 'Argentina are part of the history of the World Cup and I believe they will go far this year - that is why this is a great success to get a point against them.

However, against the run of play in the 23rd minute, Iceland pushed forward through Birkir Bjarnason and Aron Gunnarsson.

He added: "Regarding Messi, I don't have a magic formula".

- Javier Mascherano made his 144th appearance for Argentina in this match, overtaking Javier Zanetti as their most capped player.

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His coach Heimir Hallgrimsson agreed, although he would not have been able to pick a man of the match from a team performance that good.

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