- Leo Messi missed a penalty as Argentina fail to beat Iceland in opening game of Group D
- Iceland have earned a point in their first ever World Cup game
In what could be considered the World Cup's first upset, Iceland have held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in the first Group D of World Cup 2018. Leo Messi missed a penalty in a chance that could sealed victory for Argentina.
With an amazing 78% of possession after the game, it was surprising that the multi-talented Argentine side could not finish off the debutantes. Iceland themselves were no pushovers, keping both their tactical discipline and temperament through the 90 minutes.
The game was kicked off with high-tempo display from both sides. Argentina controlled the ball, with Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano dictating the pace of the game.
It was not until the 15th minute that Messi's shot from outside the goal area of Iceland was parried away by goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson. The Icelandic goalkeeper was not to be troubled again until the 19th minute.
Intricate passing from the Argentines found Man City striker Sergio Aguero in the box. The forward had time and space to to turn and let go of a thunderous strike into the net. It was Aguero's first ever goal in the tournament.
It looked from then like Argentina were on course for the expected.
There were two quick chances for Iceland in the 20th minute bbut nothing came of them
However, against the run of play in the 23rd minute, Iceland pushed forward through Birkir Bjarnason and Aron Gunnarsson. Argentina's scrappy defending put the ball in front of Alfred Finnbogasson. The striker xpertly slotted home from 12 yards.
It was all Argentina after Iceland had scored. But the Europeans defended deep and staedily.
In the second half, Argentina continued their possession onslaught. Messi, Di Maria and Maxi Meza were all brought into play. Iceland were content to play on the counter.
In the 64th minute, a delicate Messi chip was destined for Maxi Meza but Birkir Saevarsson brought Meza down. Messi stepped up to take the resulting penalty but nothing came of it. The Icelandic goalkeeper saved the penalty from the Argentine captain.
The rest of the game had Messi and his men looking for space and rarely finding any. Cristian Pavon and Gonzalo Higuain added later and Argentina could still not find the winner.
Iceland on their part will be proud and happy. They earned a point in their first ever World Cup game against a tournament favourite.
Group D's other game between Nigeria and Croatia is to be played later on Saturday.
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