Argentina 1-1 Iceland: Iceland frustrate La Albiceleste as Messi misses vital penalty

Argentina 1-1 Iceland: Iceland frustrate La Albiceleste as Messi misses vital penalty

A first-half goal from Alfred Finnbogason pegged back Argentina as minnows Iceland frustrate the South Americans.

Connor Bennett
ArgentinaCaballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia (Banega, Min.54), Mascherano, Meza (Higuain, Min.83), Messi, Di María (Pavon, Min.75), Agüero.
IcelandHalldorsson, Saevarsson, Arnason, R Sigurdsson, Magnusson, Berg Gudmundsson (Gíslasonat, Min.63), Gunnarsson (Skulason, Min.75) , Hallfredsson, Bjarnason, G Sigurdsson, Finnbogason (Sigurdarson, Min.88).
SCORE1-0, Aguero, Min. 19. 1-1, Finbogasson, Min. 23.
REFEREESzymon Marciniak (POL)

A historic first-half goal from Alfred Finnbogason helped Iceland to a point against Argentina as the two sides got their World Cup Group D campaign underway.

Argentina had taken the lead in the first 20 minutes thanks to a powerful Sergio Aguero goal but they could never capitalise as Iceland held strong for the full 90 minutes in Moscow.

Before today, Aguero had never scored in a World Cup despite making eight prior appearances. He broke that duck inside the first 20 minutes.

A miss-hit shot from Marcus Rojo landed at the feet of the Manchester City striker. Aguero dropped his shoulder, created a yard of separation, spun and rifled home into the top left-hand corner of Hannes Halldorsson’s net.

Yet, La Albiceleste were stunned less than five minutes later.

A scramble inside the Argentine box led to a ball that was swung back out wide to Gylfi Sigurdsson.

The Everton man laid on a low cross that Willy Caballero got his hands on but could only push it out to Finnbogason, who netted home from around eight yards out.

Jorge Sampaoli's men were denied by a number of brilliant saves from Iceland's goalkeeper Halldorsson, including a fine stop from Lionel Messi's second-half penalty. 

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Argentina dominate but Iceland frustrate

A lively first-half in Moscow was dominated by Argentina as they proceeded to have 80% possession but couldn’t make their dominance count.

Messi laid on two early free-kicks from distance that were both just touched only barely wide by headers from Nicolas Otamendi and Nicolas Tagliafico.

The Barcelona forward then went it alone and stung the gloves of the Iceland goalkeeper with a powerful ranged effort from outside the 18-yard-box.

Yet, they could have found themselves behind when Caballero miss played out from the back.

The Chelsea keeper rushed has clearance and allowed the Icelandic forwards to carve out a chance. More good work from Sigurdsson on the left-hand side led to a ball across the box but Birkir Bjarnason shot wide.

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Messi spot-kick woes

Iceland’s ability to frustrate Argentina continued into the second-half as the South American side struggled to create chances.

They were handed a gift when Hordur Magnusson fouled Maxi Meza inside the box as the City man got a run on his marker and the Bristol City defender and gave away a penalty.

With a chance to give his side the lead and continue his World Cup goalscoring run, Messi stepped up but saw his effort saved by Halldorsson.

Argentina had another shout for a spot-kick in the second-half when substitute Christian Pavon was fouled by Birkir Saevarsson.

Instead of heading for the VAR booth at the halfway line, referee Szymon Marciniak seemed to warn the Boca Juniors winger about possible simulation and continued play. 

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Iceland hold strong

Argentina pushed on for a winner in the second-half in a bid to avoid a poor start to their World Cup campaign. 

Sampaoli opted to change the poor Angel Di Maria for the exciting Pavon and the young winger seemed to give the Argentine attack a shot in the arm.

Yet, they were met by continued strong Icelandic resistance who would not let them past. Sampaoli's side racked up a total of 80% possession and over 25 attempts on goal but couldn't find their way through. 

There were no options for Argentina to go direct as Gonzalo Higuain stayed on the bench until the 83rd minute as Heimir Hallgrimsson's side held out brilliantly to get their debut World Cup campaign underway. 

Iceland will head to Volgograd to face Nigeria next Friday whilst Argentina face off against Croatia in Nizhny Novograd next Thursday. 

This tournament's appointed 'Group of Death' is underway and both sides will have differing opinions of their respective starts.

Hallgrimsson's men will be buoyed by their first result whilst Sampaoli will have to regroup to get his side ready for the difficult test of the Zlatko Dalić's Croats.