Monday, 18 October 2021

Messi misses penalty as Iceland hold Argentina for famous draw

MOSCOW: Argentina were held to a draw by World Cup debutants Iceland Saturday, with Lionel Messi blowing a gilt-edged opportunity for victory when he missed a penalty.

Sergio Aguero scored an eye-catching opener for the two-time world champions in the 19th minute but it was almost immediately cancelled out by Alfred Finnbogason, whose team then held on in the face of immense pressure.

It was a major embarrassment for Argentina and raises questions about their ability to claim football´s biggest prize for the first time since 1986.

As Diego Maradona looked on at Moscow´s Spartak stadium, Messi also failed to respond to his rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick for Portugal against Spain a day earlier.

Messi is yet to win a major international tournament and time is running out with his 31st birthday looming.

While the result was not on the scale of that Iceland produced to eliminate England from Euro 2016, it was a major boost for the tiny nation, who retain hopes of advancing from a group that also includes Nigeria and Croatia.

The island nation of 330,000 is the smallest country to ever qualify for the finals but emphatically showed they can mix it with the heavyweights.

In front of a raucous crowd at the 45,000-capacity venue, Iceland launched into some early physical challenges and rattled Argentina.

They hit on the counter and gave Argentina a scare when Bjorn Sigurdarson pounced on a loose ball only to rifle his shot just wide of the post.

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