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Argentina vs Iceland
2018 FIFA World Cup
|Spartak Stadium, Moscow|
The World Cup’s thrilling start continued as Iceland secured a 1-1 draw against the 2014 finalists Argentina, in the opening Group C game.
The tie began at a break neck speed, with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero putting Argentina ahead with his first ever World Cup goal on 19 minutes.
Marcos Rojo’s long range strike was deflected into his path, and he showed great balance to dodge past two Iceland defenders and blast into the top corner.
Rather than wilting in the face of the esteemed opponents, Iceland hit back with an equaliser just four minutes later. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s good work created the chance, and with Argentina failing to clear their lines, the chance fell to Alfred Finnbogason, and slotted home from six yards.
Argentina struggled to cope with Iceland’s intensity in the second half, but they were gifted a way back into the game, after Aguero was fouled for a penalty.
However Lionel Messi could not take advantage, and his poor spot kick was saved by Thor Halldorsson.
Argentina had chances to win it in the closing ten minutes, with substitute Cristian Pavon – who was also denied a penalty shout – drew a fine save from Halldorsson.
Argentina face Croatia next , while Iceland take on Nigeria.
2014 finalists Argentina get their World Cup campaign underway against tournament first timers Iceland in Moscow. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 11pm AEST.
Argentina are already tipped as one of the favourites to win the trophy, after the heartbreak of the loss last year to Germany, with the added impetus that this is likely to be Lionel Messi’s final tournament with the national team.
Iceland followed on from the success of their first ever tournament appearance which saw them oust England in Euro 2016, by topping their qualification group, and sealing a spot in Russia.
Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli has a squad filled with quality and experience, with Messi joined by Javier Mascherano, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero.
Iceland are all about the collective, with a squad that ply their trade across Europe’s leagues, with Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson the stand out name in their squad.
With the other two sides in this group, Croatia and Nigeria, likely to provide a sterner test for Argentina, Messi and company cannot afford any slip-ups in this clash – and despite the strength in organisation that the Icelanders possess, Sampaoli’s side should have enough to win.
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Argentina are notoriously slow starters in World Cups, and this game could follow suit and take a while to catch fire, particularly with all of the pressure on them.
Qualification was difficult at times for them, but their individual quality will shine through, even if it is not a classic game.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 11pm AEST.