Missed penalty hurts, says Messi

Rosalie Gross
June 17, 2018

France launched their World Cup campaign with victory against Australia on Saturday as the Video Assistant Referee system was used for the first time in World Cup history.

The match went on to finish 1-1 as Iceland made a fine fist of defending deep, though Halldorsson was forced to pull off another outstanding save from substitute Cristian Pavon late on to keep it that way. They needed an own goal and a penalty kick to complete the scoreline, while the African nation did next to nothing. 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.

There were signs of trouble for Argentina's defence to come, when a poor Willy Caballero clearance came straight to Birkir Bjarnason, who drilled wide of the post.

But the Barcelona ace's lackluster record on penalties continued, as he stepped up and fired a weak shot at the flawless height and velocity to gift Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson an easy save.

"It hurts me to have missed the penalty because it would've given us a decisive advantage", the Barcelona player said after the game. Iceland were able to run rings around the defence and that's not a good sign if you aspire to win big. In the absence of Messi's sparkle, Argentina's attack was a bit flat and they need to improve on that if they are to live to their high expectations.

Peru, making its first World Cup appearance in 36 years, missed a key chance to get on the board early when Christian Cueva botched a penalty kick just before halftime.

Messi: The Penalty Was Painful
FC's Stevie Nicol feels it's time for Lionel Messi to relinquish penalty duties as his miss resulted in a 1-1 draw with Iceland . Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli dismissed Messi's penalty set-back as a "statistic" and praised his attitude in a hard game.

And finally, arguably the two best players in the world, Messi and Ronaldo will always play their personal battle even if the two players aren't really competing.

While Argentina controlled the ball for large stretches, they held steady at the back, and with 20 minutes remaining the situation was summed up when Banega curled a hopeful, rather than unsafe, shot towards the 'keeper from outside the box.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters Iceland fans chant during the match at Spartak Stadium.

By the second half, Messi pushed further forward, presumably with the aim of getting him in more unsafe areas, but if anything, that made Argentina more predictable.

Iceland sits deep and packs the center, and when there is no space it is very hard for anybody to play.

After recording a point against Argentina, Iceland are back in action versus Nigeria on Friday before taking on Croatia the following Tuesday. It also included what looked to be a dubiously awarded first-half penalty that Ronaldo converted. "We're going to go out there to beat Croatia [on June 21]". "We know how we can win football matches, and against a team like Argentina, that it's just a fact they have superior individuals with superior skills playing better teams in better leagues than the Iceland players".

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