Well done Iceland! How a film director and a dentist denied Argentina

Tonya Becker
June 17, 2018

Iceland, by far the smallest country by population to appear at a World Cup and inspired by their "thunderclapping" fans, ran and battled tirelessly as they wrote another unlikely chapter in their short but glorious major tournament history.

That said, Portugal went on to win that tournament.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli dismissed his star player's penalty set-back as a "statistic" and praised his attitude in a hard game.

VAR has been used to varying degrees of success in Serie A and the German Bundesliga, while Federation Internationale de Football Association used the system at the Confederations Cup in Russia a year ago.

True to form, Iceland fought back and Finnbogason netted the equaliser four minutes later, pouncing when Argentine keeper Wilfredo Caballero parried away Gylfi Sigurdsson's shot for a classic poacher's goal.

In the second half, Ever Banega soon replaced Lucas Biglia, and Argentina started to exert more pressure on their resolute opponents, and Messi needed to come deep for the ball less often than he had in the first 45, and his involvement was nearly decisive right away.

Despite their broad experience and an attacking roster led by Messi alongside Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero, Argentina ahve struggled in qualifying round. team manager Jorge Sampaoli's camp only secured their spot to Russian Federation thanks to a hat-trick from Messi in their last qualifier versus Ecuador.

In the 64 minute, Lionel Messi stepped up to take a spot kick and in an all too familiar scene, he missed! "We really came to win against a team that had a very strong defensive structure with a lot of people in the box, which prevented us from capitalizing on ball possession".

VAR also resulted in a penalty for Peru against Denmark but Christian Cueva blazed over, missing the chance to register La Blanquirroja's first World Cup goal since 1982 and the South Americans were punished for that miss when Yussuf Poulsen struck the only goal of the game early in the second-half. Maradona was at Spartak Stadium with television cameras capturing every exasperated gesture as the match went on.

For Messi's quality, it will be detrimental to judge him by this performance but the multimillion dollar question is: will Messi put today's game behind him and come back roaring in the next games?

"For me, as a goalkeeper from little Iceland and at the first game at a World Cup, to face the best player in the world at a penalty is", - he gave a long pause - "a big moment".

The captain hung out wide right for most of the opening five or 10 minutes, walking around, surveying the scene, before coming inside and starting to take control.

"Croatia are a great team and Nigeria are also good".

After a scoreless first half, the VAR system was used to overturn a missed foul against France's Antoine Griezmann after play was initially waved on.

"You can't have a better welcome", coach Heimar Hallgrimsson said in Moscow last December. - Javier Mascherano made his 144th appearance for Argentina in this match, overtaking Javier Zanetti as their most capped player.

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