The game started off with high-tempo. Both sides were trying to overwhelm the other with pressure, and losing the ball in the process. Even though Argentina had the majority of the possession in the first ten minutes of the game, it was Iceland who had more taken more chances to create goal scoring opportunity. Jorge Sampaoli had deployed two defensive midfielders in Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia, but they were getting outnumbered. It was then their messiah, Lionel Messi, starting dropping back and supported his teammates to get the ball out their half. This helped the team get into a groove, and take control of the pace. Messi was finding space everywhere and curled a shot only to have it parried by the goalkeeper. Warning signs of Iceland were sent. In the 19th minute of the game, Kun Aguero found himself in the box and the ball was deflected to him. He muscled his way to shuffle his feet to absolutely belt the ball past Halldersson. This was the Manchester City man’s first goal in the FIFA World Cup that gave Argentina the lead of the game. However, Iceland responded immediately with a goal of their own in the 23rd minute after swarming the Argentinian defence. Alfred Finnbogasson was at the right place at the right time for his team to latch on to the loose ball and score Iceland’s first ever goal in the World Cup history. The fans around the stadium let a raucous roar this feat from a nation that has only 300,000 + citizens. Argentina tried to get the upper hand back again, but the first half ended with both teams level.
The second half started with Argentina all charged up to break the tie of this game and in the 54th minute, Lucas Bigila was substituted with Ever Banega to sharpen their attack so that they can execute more swiftly. And just when Argentina were getting more fierce in the attacking half, Iceland’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson was replaced by Rurik Gislason. Iceland were putting their bodies on the line and they fouled Lionel Messi in the 64th minute. Everyone on the ground had their hearts in their hand because till that moment Iceland have displayed great football and have been very clinical since their concede in the defense but the bad foul in the penalty box would soon wipe it out. However, mirroring Cristiano Ronaldo’s first goal against Spain yesterday came from a penalty and it was believed that Lionel Messi would break the tie and also shut his critics down who often say that Messi fails to perform for Argentina.
The referee blew the whistle, Messi started his run and struck it with power on the left side of the goal. The whole stadium was in pin drop silence as the ball picking up its trajectory from the penalty spot and sailed through air to find the back of the Icelandic net but Halldorsson jumped to his right and with a strong palm of his right hand directed the ball out of the goal line and to the right side of the penalty box and Iceland defenders cleared the ball out from danger. A few changes were made along the way by first substituting Angel Di Maria with Christian Pavon to add more fuel to the Argentine attack but nothing did turn things around Sampaoli’s men.
Though Argentina can always argue they were driving seat in the game but that missed penalty from Lionel Messi only gave them one point instead of three which means they have to win their other two matches to secure a spot for the elimination round.
Final Score: Argentina 1 – 1 Iceland 1