Iceland Holds Off Argentina In 1-1 Draw At First World Cup

Jorge Sampaoli

Jorge Sampaoli

In the second half, Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson saved a penalty kick from Messi, and Iceland was able to hold on for a 1-1 tie. Messi stepped up to take the spot kick, but the placement was at the flawless height to allow Halldorsson to make a diving save to his right.

The man-of-the-match described the moment, which kept the score level at 1-1, as "a dream come true" but also said it was the result of painstaking research into the five-time world player of the year.

The Argentinian was spotted in the stands watching his countrymen take on Iceland at the group D tie at the Sparatak Stadium in Moscow.

Hannes Halldorsson (Iceland): The former film director ensured he was the star of the show by keeping out Messi's penalty and producing a brilliant late save from Pavon to earn his side a deserved point. Because we could have sold much more in Iceland.

Just after the hour, Argentina had a penalty when Maximiliano Meza was brought down by Horour Magnusson, chasing a flighted through ball from Messi into the box.

Today was a historic day as Iceland prepared to play in their first ever World Cup match. A 1-1 draw with impressive World Cup newcomer Iceland is far from a fatal blow to Argentina's chances of advancing from a well-balanced group that also includes Croatia and Nigeria.

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. Truth be told, Messi seemed to be spurred into life after that miss, dribbling with objective and creating more chances for himself - an exquisite over-the-head take of a through ball in the 79th minute was jaw-dropping - but try as he might he couldn't break the Iceland defence down.

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Hallgrimsson added: "We knew how the game would be played, they would have possession 60-70 per cent of the time and we played our defence brilliantly, the boys should take all the credit against world-class players".

If anyone can relate to what Messi has to endure, it is Diego Maradona, the inspiration behind Argentina's 1986 World Cup triumph.

This is not to say Messi didn't have a frustrating game.

In attack, Iceland did plenty to test Argentina and even enjoyed some good spells of possession as the game progressed. In Iceland's defensive third, Messi was quickly closed down by three players anytime he had the ball.

Argentina looked a disjointed side with a weakish defence at the back.

The South Americans are outright favourites to dominate the group along with probably Croatia, notwithstanding the dangers of Nigeria. "We're 22nd in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings and won our group in qualifying".

In the second half, Ever Banega soon replaced Lucas Biglia, and Argentina started to exert more pressure on their resolute opponents, and Messi needed to come deep for the ball less often than he had in the first 45, and his involvement was nearly decisive right away.

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