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Lionel Messi can’t convert penalty kick, and Argentina ties Iceland in tense World Cup match

Iceland hangs on to tie Argentina 1-1.

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Argentina v Iceland: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images


Argentina and Iceland battled to a 1-1 tie in their World Cup Day 3 match on Saturday, in a match that was a hell of a lot more exciting than its scoreline would suggest.

Before the game, I wrote that this match was somehow being billed as Lionel Messi taking on Cristiano Ronaldo, and laughed at it, and then the banter gods laughed at me, because I am a fool. Messi missed a penalty, and struggled to carry an Argentina team that looked shaky, especially in the back. So uh, I guess Ronaldo is the soccer god, and Lionel Messi is trash, or something?

The funny thing is, I thought Messi was sort of brilliant? He was unguardable when he had the ball, he played the perfect ball in that earned the penalty, he just missed on a couple chances … it seems reductive to point to him as the cause of Argentina’s problems. Should he have taken the penalty? Probably not, especially when you have Aguero in the side. But otherwise, I’m not sure he’s the guy I’m putting that result on.

The first half was a study in two different styles of play. Iceland sat back, organized, keeping men behind the ball and looking to break on the counter attack. Argentina possessed, tried to find Messi in the middle, and took their time trying to pick apart the defense. Every once in a while, Iceland would break, and the game would open wide up.

The first goal came from Sergio Aguero, who took a Marcus Rojo shot/pass across the face of goal, collected it, turned his man, and ripped a shot into the top left corner. Iceland answered right back, however, when some sloppy defending and missed clearances resulted in Finnbogason getting the ball at his feet six yards out and then clearing.

The big moment of banter came in the 63rd minute when Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick, which, depending on who you ask, was either a nice save by Icelandic keeper Halldorsson … or Lionel Messi showing how he is an inferior player to Cristiano Ronaldo and cementing his legacy as a choker on the biggest stage.

Again, that all seems a bit simplistic to me, but what do I know. See all the goals and highlights below:


And that’s one way to do it! Rojo the center back carries forward, rips what appears to be a shot into the box, and it’s collected by Sergio Aguero, who takes a touch back, turns his man, and rips a left-footed shot in the top corner. Argentina hadn’t looked all that great up until that moment, but when you have Aguero and Messi, you can make stuff out of nothing.


Argentina can’t clear their lines ... again ... a cross from Sigurdsson is blocked, and Finnbogason is there to clean up the mess from six yards out. That’s Iceland’s first World Cup goal ever, too, as everyone is very eager to tell me. WE GOT A SOCCER GAME.


I was worried this thing was going to be a boring, cagey affair, but we’ve had a game! Argentina’s defense is an absolute mess, Iceland is looking dangerous on the counter, and Argentina’s attack is so good that they can stay in any game. Also, watching Messi dribble around people in tight spaces is the closest I’ve felt to the first time I saw the Grand Canyon.


Lionel Messi clips in a gorgeous ball to Meza, who is taken down in the box. Messi then steps up to take the PK, but it’s STOPPED by Iceland goalkeeper Halldorsson. BANTER. SCENES. NARRATIVE. ALL THE OTHER WORDS. WHOOO BABY.


Starting Lineups


Argentina is set to take on Iceland in a Group D match on Saturday morning. The match will take place at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow at 9 a.m. on FOX and Fox Sports Go.

Iceland, who will be playing in its first World Cup, has a tough match out the gates as the team will face Argentina, the runner-ups to the 2014 World Cup. Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the team’s top scorer, is seeking to win his first ever World Cup.

Qualifying went poorly for the Argentines, who needed a sensational performance on the final day just to make the tournament. They’ve struggled with injuries and some top players aging, and enter this World Cup with a squad that looks nowhere near as impressive as previous tournaments. But Messi is still the best player in the world, and with him, Argentina always has a chance.

Argentina vs. Iceland time, TV channel, and streaming info

Time: 9 a.m. ET

Location: Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia

TV: FOX (English), Telemundo (Spanish)

Streaming: Watch the game on Fox Sports Go (English) and Telemundo Deportes en vivo (Spanish) for free if you sign in with your TV provider. It’s also on subscription services like Fubo and Hulu.

Odds: Argentina -1 (full odds at OddsShark)

For listings from more countries, check out Live Soccer TV.

Argentina key player: Javier Mascherano

Everyone already knows Messi needs to show up, so let’s highlight someone else, shall we? Argentina has a flimsy defense and doesn’t have much defending in its midfield either. Mascherano will have to be Superman in the center of the park to keep Argentina from giving up goals.

Iceland key player: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Iceland’s best chance of scoring a goal in this match is probably from a set piece, and Sigurdsson is a dead-ball wizard.