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Iceland’s draw against Argentina in World Cup debut feels more like victory

17 June 2018

That's not to say Messi underperformed in the 1-1 draw against Iceland, he was unquestionably Argentina's best player despite again failing from the penalty spot - seemingly the only flaw in his arsenal, but his shadow hangs over the rest of the team, inhibiting them, stifling their natural instincts.

Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in Group D at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Saturday, as the former made their first appearance in a World Cup finals.

Messi and Argentina still have games against Nigeria and Croatia to turn things around, but they'll be gutted that they missed out on victory today.

Lionel Messi's Argentina will underestimate Iceland at their peril, coach Heimir Hallgrimsson warned on Friday, saying the minnows are ready to spring another surprise in Russian Federation.

True to form, Iceland fought back and Finnbogason netted the equaliser four minutes later, pouncing after Argentine keeper Willy Caballero parried Gylfi Sigurdsson's shot for a classic poacher's goal.

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"I did my homework".

This was the first game in Group D, which looks even more evenly balanced now than it did at kickoff. The only World Cup matchday with four consecutive matches, it featured a slip-up from a favorite, the first use of video assistant referee and more. We should have used out greater offensive presence and taken advantage of Maxi [Meza]'s position in the second period.

Iceland's players rushed to the stands to share their celebrations with their fans and now will have real belief that they can get out of a group that also contains Croatia and Nigeria, who meet later on Saturday.

Having fallen behind to Aguero's excellently-taken 19th-minute opener, many teams would have folded. A chance to score the winning goal and push his country towards the one trophy they are all desperate to win.

"There's a certain amount of frustration right now", said Sampaoli.

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However, against the run of play in the 23rd minute, Iceland pushed forward through Birkir Bjarnason and Aron Gunnarsson. However it didn't take much longer for Argentina to get themselves ahead, although there was a bit of luck and fortunate in how the ball landed at the eventual goalscorer's feet.

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

In contrast, Caballero caused uneasy moments for his defense in the first half. On the one hand you have Ronaldo delivering a hat trick in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain, one that was punctuated with a brilliant free kick that left Spain goalkeeper David De Gea rooted to the ground.

By the end there was yet another shape, Higuain added alongside Aguero in a 4-4-2 diamond.

Javier Mascherano indicated Iceland's defensive tactics caused problems for Jorge Sampaoli's side.

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The Everton playmaker has been out since March with a knee injury and has been quietly rehabbing ahead of the World Cup . Being that he has never wo the World Cup in his career, Messi will be hoping to guide his team to the title this year.

Argentina were dominating possession in the early stages but could not really break down the compact Iceland defence.

Iceland’s draw against Argentina in World Cup debut feels more like victory