A poor Argentina were held to a surprising 1-1 draw with underdogs Iceland at Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Saturday afternoon.
The spotlight was shone down heavily on Argentina’s main man Lionel Messi, with his rival Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick for Portugal in a 3-3 draw with Spain the night before. Unfortunately for Messi, and his team-mates, the 30-year-old failed to impress, missing a handful of chances, including one from the penalty spot, although the save from Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson was very impressive.
Halldorsson went on to claim the Man of the Match award after a game full of crucial saves kept Argentina’s vicious attack at bay. After Iceland picked up their first ever point at a World Cup Finals, here is what Halldorsson had to say:
“For me as a goalkeeper to play for Iceland and face the best player in the world at a penalty is a big moment and a dream come true to save it, especially as it helped us get a big point which I hope is going to prove important to us. It is our goal to qualify.
“I did some homework. This was a situation which I knew could come up. I looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and had a good feeling that he would go this way today.”
As for Iceland in general, they put up a real fight throughout the contest, despite only having 22% possession by the end of the match. Iceland recorded their first ever FIFA World Cup goal not long after Argentina’s opener from Sergio Aguero. The goal was scored by Alfred Finnbogason, and this goal would go on to really startle Argentina’s defence, as they crumbled at times later on in the match to give the minnows Iceland a few more chances.
Here is what Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli had to say after the match: “To evaluate and characterise Lionel Messi’s work is difficult because it was an uncomfortable match for him. Iceland played very defensively, blocking all spaces but we did everything we could to win. Leo is very committed to Argentina.”
Here are the thoughts of Iceland manager Heimir Hallgrimsson after the match: “We played our defence brilliantly, we knew that they would have 60 or 70% possession and it is difficult to defend against that. But all credit for their hard work. There was nothing in their game that surprised us.
“We are bluntly honest about our ability. We know how we can win football matches. It is just a fact that Argentina have superior individuals with superior skills and if we go one-on-one with them you don’t need to ask who will win the game. We have to play in a special way and we have a clear identity.”
- Biglia (Substituted for Banega at 54′minutes)
- Meza (Substituted for Higuaín at 84′minutes)
- Di María (Substituted for Pavón at 75′minutes)
- R Sigurdsson
- Berg Gudmundsson (Substituted for Gíslason at 63′minutes)
- Gunnarsson (Substituted for AF Skúlason at 76′minutes)
- G Sigurdsson
- Finnbogason (Substituted for Sigurdarson at 89′minutes)