Iceland, un point! Halldorsson's Eurovision stops Messi

World Cup 2018 Argentina vs Iceland Lionel Messi Led Argentina Look To Make Early Statement

Croatia beat Nigeria 2-0 on Saturday with an own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty from Luka Modric to go top of World Cup Group D, one of the toughest and most unpredictable in the tournament.

"I did my homework", the 34-year-old who plays in the Danish league told reporters after stopping a 64th-minute spot kick that pegged Argentina to a 1-1 draw and added to a miserable run of four misses from seven this past season for Messi.

It's an issue Messi has struggled with throughout his career, compared to the strike rates of the other leading forwards.

"It hurt missing the penalty". A success rate of just 76.6%, well below Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Cavani who all boast numbers in the mid-80s.

"Yes, we had a chance and I did not make a use of it", the Argentinian football star said. Lionel Messi had a penalty kick saved as the South Americans surrendered a lead and only got a point out of the match.

"We are more unpredictable now, and hopefully we'll show that in the competition", he said.

It was a contrast to long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, whose hat-trick in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain on Friday included a penalty and a free kick.

However, Iceland, the smallest nation ever to qualify, refused to roll over, with midfielders Aron Gunnarsson, Emil Hallfredsson and Birkir Bjarnason grafting like troopers to double up on Messi and shut down the spaces Argentina were trying to work.

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Argentina has been a major World Cup powerhouse since 1970, lifting the trophy twice in their history, but the hopes of the nation now rest on Messi to pull out a sensational performance to carry them through. They were given multiple chances to clear and the ball would eventually fall to the feet of Augsburg's Alfred Finnbogason who duly finished to send the Icelandic hordes in Russian Federation and at home insane.

Halldorsson made another good stop to claw away Pavon's unsafe cross and Iceland replaced goal scorer Finnbogason with Bjorn Sigurdarson and they held on despite Messi firing narrowly over in stoppage time.

A clearly ruffled Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli defended Messi and his players, predicting they would bounce back against Croatia and Denmark to progress from Group D. "I had a good feeling he'd go this way today".

'Iceland practically did nothing, ' he said.

Iceland fans had thronged Moscow before the game, giving a pulsating rendition of their legendary Viking hand clap at a central park. I see it as teamwork.

Peru started the brighter of the two sides, keeping Danish danger man Christian Eriksen under wraps for much of the first half, and they should have gone ahead just before the break when Cueva was tripped in the box by Poulsen.

While Messi was understandably frustrated after the final whistle, he will appreciate what Iceland's number one said about him after the match.

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