Iceland's 'zombie film' keeper outwits Messi spot kick

Calvin Saunders
June 18, 2018

Is this the year that La Albiceleste's superstar Lionel Messi finally takes the one and only major title missing in his list of professional football career fulfillment?

Rurik Gislason came on for the injured Johann Berg Gudmundsson in an enforced Iceland change, and Messi curled a free kick over as he tried to make amends for his failure to score from the spot.

But those in Messi's camp have an out following Argentina's 1-1 draw with Iceland: The tiny Nordic nation did the same thing to Ronaldo two years ago at the Euros.

Captain Messi missed a penalty in 1-1 draw in his 125th global against an Iceland side making their tournament debut as the smallest nation ever to reach the finals. Messi placed his shot to the right of Hannes Halldorsson, but the Iceland goalkeeper dived and got two hands behind the ball.

"We aimed for the win, but we failed as we scored a fast goal and the Icelanders tied the score", Messi told journalists after the game.

Ronaldo criticized Iceland the same way after Portugal's 1-1 draw in Iceland's Euro 2016 debut. Argentina's build-up play was very slow as they passed the ball from side to side and most often, without any sense of urgency. That gives us all a few days to replace the blown-out speakers on our laptops.

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"It's not the best feeling", Argentina's record appearance holder said. - Alfred Finnbogason's goal was Iceland's first shot on target in the competition.

Speaking afterwards, Halldorsson said: "I did some homework because I knew it was a situation that could come up".

And they were going to get a baptism of fire as they prepared to face Argentina with Lionel Messi surely fired up after seeing his legendary rival Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat trick against Spain the previous night. The best chances in the early stages of the first half came when Nicolas Otamendi and Nicolas Tagliafico both had glancing headers fly wide of the post. Today's result could potentially hamper their momentum as the team are looking to go all the way in the tournament. It was Aguero's alertness, seizing on a mishit Marcos Rojo shot, pivoting and lashing a shot past Halldorsson, that brought the first goal. The ref pointed to the spot and naturally Messi was decided amongst his teammates he was the worthy choice to play "God".

Next up for Iceland is a match against Nigeria, while Messi and his Argentinian team will look to bounce back against a star-studded Croatia. Messi and his men found it very hard to break through a very tight Iceland defense.

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.

"Just wait and see when we win a game", Hallgrimsson said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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