Argentina v Iceland player ratings
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Jun 17, 2018,
Jun 17, 2018, 10:44
Nine minutes from the end, Messi curled a superb strike narrowly wide from the edge of the D, and Argentina threw Gonzalo Higuain into the fray as they pressed for a late victor. "In the second half Iceland played differently, they were waiting". This is a team which has perfected the art of frustrating their opponents into submission. This could also be Lionel Messi's last chance of World Cup glory and expectations have risen following Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning hat-trick against Spain on Friday.
However, Sergio Aguero made all the possession La Albiceleste count in the 19th minute with a superb left-footed strike inside the box that screamed into the top corner, 1-0.
As expected, it was the South Americans who dominated the opening exchanges as they moved the ball around, while Iceland were tight and compact at the back. But Messi's shot was saved by Hannes Halldorsson, who had a strong game. With his teammates unable to get him the ball, Messi often dropped deep into the formation to take possession and launch attacks.
The Argentina great, considered by many to be the best player of all time, has missed more than 20 penalty kicks in his career.
After Alfred Finnbogason converted a rebound from close range in the 23rd minute, Iceland resumed their stout ways.
In contrast, Caballero caused uneasy moments for his defense in the first half.
A star-studded Argentina could not beat Iceland. A wonderful pass to Maximiliano Meza saw the Independiente man brought down by Magnusson. Romero who got injured before the World Cup had to be replaced with Cabellero who has barely played this season. A chance to score the winning goal and push his country towards the one trophy they are all desperate to win.
Still it's far from clear that the extra game would have helped Messi with his penalty kicks.
The question marks over his inclusion reared their ugly head when he failed to deal with a ball that was eventually worked out to Gylfi Sigurdsson on the right. His penalty added to a run that started with a miss for Barcelona in La Liga last August. While Marcos Rojo doesn't have much game time in him, Otamendi is not famous for his composure.
But all week Iceland have been telling people their Euro 2016 win over England was not a miracle, their group-topping qualification was not a shock.
If, 18 hours apart, Messi and Ronaldo produced chalk-and-cheese performances, exactly two years and two days apart, Iceland came up with two of the most determined defensive displays you are ever likely to witness at the global arena. And Ronaldo, you'll recall, exited the pitch in Saint-Etienne that night with a cocky grin akin to the Cheshire Cat. However the bearded warrior's effort was poor and the referee immediately blew the final whistle. It played a role that Gudjohnson played there but I also liked to watch Messi, a lot.