Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Lionel Messi: 'Argentina deserved to beat Iceland'

Lionel Messi: 'Argentina deserved to beat Iceland'

The script was laid out perfectly, Lionel Messi was over the ball, and he would surely score to give his side the win and further cement his legacy as the greatest of all time. Yesterday Cristiano Ronaldo wowed critics with a hat trick performance against Spain, with the game all but under wraps, his third goal coming in the 88th minute to secure the draw.

With the five-time world player of the year stepping up to restore Argentina's lead in the Group D opener, tiny Iceland's first ever appearance at the World Cup finals, Halldorsson admitted that he felt the pressure.

The lead lasted only four minutes with Alfred Finnbogason netting the equaliser, his country's first-ever World Cup goal.

Argentina, playing in all-black and roared on by the vast majority of the crowd in a rocking Spartak Stadium, eventually took command, delivering wave after wave of attacks in the second half. Both teams jockeyed for possessions, until halftime presided with both teams looking ahead carte blanche. Peru failed miserably on a penalty kick and faced a focused Kasper Schmeichel who kept an impressive clean sheet with numerous big-time saves.

Incidentally, 34-year-old Halldorsson was also responsible for directing Coca Cola's Icelandic World Cup promo commercial.

As it was, though, Hannes Thor Halldorsson saved Messi's kick, and so Argentina began Russian Federation 2018 with a 1-1 draw against a nation making its World Cup debut.

After the restart of play, Javier Mascherano continued to dominate through midfield, and at the hour mark had completed more passes than every other Iceland player combined.

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With a population of 335,000, the European nation will have to stop one man Lionel Messi who has not had a good love affair with the World Cup in his three previous tournaments. The two-time World Cup and 2014 runners-up Argentina are prepping up to take part in their 17th finals appearance, while Iceland - the smallest nation of all 32 countries in terms of population with just under 335,000 locals - are making their first World Cup appearance in Russian Federation. Definitely, I think that it will be too early to write off Lionel Messi.

Despite the outspoken punditry, it is less than convincing that the extra game would have helped Messi with his penalty taking.

Argentina's World Cup campaign got off to a disappointing start as they were frustrated by a stubborn Iceland side and had to walk away with a solitary point. "I had a good feeling that he would go this way today".

But the best chance of the opening minutes fell to Iceland when a shot from outside the area after nine minutes took a deflection and fell to Birkir Bjarnason, who scuffed wide with just keeper Willy Caballero to beat.

However, Heimir Hallgrimsson's side was undeterred by the setback of conceding first.

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