1-1! Iceland Hold Argentina FIFA World Cup Group D

by Samuel Abasi Posted on June 16th, 2018

Debutants Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their opening FIFA World Cup Group D game at Spartak Stadium Moscow on Saturday. Aguero scored a superb opener for Argentina, Finnbogason leveled for Iceland just minutes later while Messi saw his penalty saved as Argentina chased a winner.

Sergio Aguero gave Argentina a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute before Alfredo Finnbogason scored the first World Cup goal in Iceland history in the 23rd minute.

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi was denied by the goalkeeper on a chance to take the lead for Argentina in its World Cup opener against Iceland Saturday in Moscow.

Messi’s miss came in the 64th minute. Maximiliano Meza was making a far post run to set up the penalty kick. Messi fired in a swinging pass, leading his teammate toward the goal. But Meza was clipped by Iceland defender Hordur Magnusson. Referees called a penalty on the box for the infraction.

Messi then stepped up to the line, attempting to give Argentina a 2-1 lead.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner and FC Barcelona star took a left footed attempt and shot to the left side of the goal. But Iceland keeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson read it all the way. The 6-foot-4 net minder lunged to his right, blocking Messi’s shot. The ball bounced out to Ever Banega after the miss, but he was unable to put it on target, as the Iceland defense cleared the danger.

Before the match with two-time champions Argentina, Iceland midfielder and captain Aron Gunnarsson said that the team wanted to give their fans “a surprise” at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. At the same time, the team’s head coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson, said that Iceland would not assign a player to personally mark star striker Lionel Messi.

Argentina have been drawn in Group D along with Nigeria, Croatia and Iceland, which had qualified for the World Cup for the first time and are the smallest nation to achieve the feat.

Argentina is playing its next Group D match against Croatia on June 21 in Nizhny Novgorod, while Iceland is set take on their group opponents Nigeria on June 22 in Volgograd. Croatia plays Nigeria later today starting 1900 gmt at the Kaliningrad stadium in Kaliningrad.

A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.

The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.

Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14.  The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The  11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

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