It’s typically hard to say a team “won” a draw, but what happened Saturday morning in Russia is a rare exception.
Iceland miraculously played Argentina to a 1-1 draw in the teams’ 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D opener. The result really is a tale of two perspectives: Iceland will celebrate earning the first World Cup point in the country’s history, while Argentina and its superstar captain, Lionel Messi, will mourn the squandering of so many great scoring chances.
Chief among them was Messi’s missed penalty kick in the second half, but we’ll get to that later.
First, watch Sergio Aguero give Argentina a 1-0 lead early in the first half:
At that point, soccer fans likely were expecting Argentina to coast to a victory.
But Iceland and Alfred Finnbogason had different plans.
Maybe Euro 2016 wasn’t a fluke, after all.
With a little over 25 minutes to go and the score still tied 1-1, Messi had a chance to give Argentina the lead. But then Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson did this:
Argentina had a slew of great scoring chances the rest of the way, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Messi, in particular, had a frustrating game.
Here’s Argentina vs. Iceland by the numbers:
Will too much be made of Messi’s uninspiring World Cup opener? Probably, but it nonetheless was a disappointing encore to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick for Portugal on Friday.
Still, Messi is too good of a player, and Argentina too good of a team, not to rebound from Saturday’s result.
Man of the match: Halldorsson, whose penalty-kick save on Messi forever will hold a place in Icelandic soccer lore.
Next up: Argentina will return to the field Thursday to play Croatia, whereas Iceland will play Nigeria on Friday.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports Images