Iceland hold Argentina to 1-1 draw as Messi misses penalty

Argentina has appeared in five World Cup finals, including the first final in 1930, which they lost 4-2 to Uruguay.

"It was an uncomfortable match, because Iceland was playing very defensively, blocking all the possible spaces, but we did everything we could for Argentina to win". 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.

Argentina were first to breach the Iceland goal in the 19th minute when Manchester City striker Sergio Aguerro swiveled inside the box to fire into the top right corner. However, Iceland showed exactly the same commitment and self-belief as when they stunned the world with their run to the quarterfinals of the European Championship two years ago and hit back four minutes later through Alfred Finnbogason.

In the second half, Argentina had a great chance to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty.

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

In the 17th minute, Lionel Messi tested goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson with a long drive but which the Iceland goal minder comfortably punched away.

"We have things to improve, we're going to beat Croatia".

The opening game of Group D at the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Saturday was one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament at preliminary levels as fans around the globe got to witness an epic match between veterans against debutants.

Even with the forward players available to Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli, they'll surely be punished if they continue to defend as poorly as they did here. I think they celebrated the draw as a victory. "They had more shots than us".

They may not be cocky, but after passing one of their first competitive tests against a top-ranked side from outside Europe, the Icelanders aren't short on confidence, either.

The 34-year-old part-time video director said: "I did some homework because I knew it was a situation that could come up". Before trailing, Iceland could have taken the lead but Birkir Bjarnason side-footed a shot wide of goal when Caballero was exposed.

Iceland's performance belied their underdog status, relying more on organization at the back to disrupt Argentina's potent forward line that also includes Angel Di Maria of PSG and Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus. "I looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and had a good feeling that he would go this way today".

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor has even hinted he could retire from worldwide football after the tournament, saying last week that "it will depend on how far we go". Halldorsson said to a reporter who asked why Iceland celebrated so much for a draw.

  • Kyle Peterson