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Iceland hold Argentina to a historic draw as Messi has night to forget

Argentina 1 (Aguero 19’)
Iceland 1 (Finnbogason 23’)

By Daniel Heinrich

Iceland have held tournament heavyweights Argentina to a 1-1 draw in the country’s first ever World Cup match.

Alfred Finnbogason’s 23rd minute strike to cancel out Sergio Aguero’s superb left-footed opener and a man-of-the-match performance by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, proved to be enough for Iceland. The result was even more commendable given Argentina’s domination with 72 per cent of the game’s possession.

Argentina’s star man Lionel Messi had a night to forget as he made a mess of a penalty in the 64th minute, firing the spot kick into the gloves of Halldorsson.

Messi amassed a total of 11 shots and could not take advantage of numerous opportunities, as he and his high profile teammates failed to break down a resolute Icelandic defence.

Iceland’s head coach Heimir Hallgrímsson was content with his side taking a point from the match, admitting after the game that he set up his team to play defensively.

“We already knew how it would be played…They would have possession 60 to 70 percent of the time,” Hallgrímsson said.

“I think we played our defence brilliantly. The boys should get all the credit for both organisation and hard work in the game against world class players like Argentina.”

The match was not without controversy as Polish referee Szymon Marciniak failed to make use of the video assistant referee (VAR) system in the 77th minute when Argentine Cristian Pavón was brought down in the box by what looked like clear contact.

Finnbogason will have cemented himself in Icelandic history as as the first player from his country to score at a FIFA World Cup.

Iceland will continue their quest for a round of 16 berth when they match-up with Nigeria on June 23. Argentina will be looking to take all three points from Luka Modric’s Croatia on June 22.

Match Statistics

Argentina: 72%
Iceland: 28%

Shot Attempts (On Target):
Argentina: 27 (7)
Iceland: 9 (3)

Fouls Committed:
Argentina: 10 (0 Cards)
Iceland: 15 (0 Cards)

Argentina: 10
Iceland: 2

Team line-ups

Argentina: 23 Caballero (GK), 3 Tagliafico, 16 Rojo, 17 Otamendi, 18 Salvio, 5 Biglia (54), 14 Macherano, 11 Di Maria (75), 10 Messi (C), 13 Meza (84), 19 Aguero.
Substitutes used: 7 Banega (54), 22 Pavon (75), 9 Higuain (84).

Iceland: 1 Halldorsson (GK), 18 Magnusson, 6 Sigurdsson, 14 Arnason, 2 Saevarsson, 8 Bjarnason, 20 Hallfredson, 10 Sigurdsson, 17 Gunnarsson (C) (76), 7 Gudmundsson (63), 11 Finnbogason (89).
Substitutes used: 19 Gislason (63), 23 A.Skulason (76), 9 Sigurdason (89).

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