Iceland player ratings v Argentina as goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson is a nailed on 9 following his heroics

Matt Jones 16/06/2018
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Iceland battled manfully to hold mighty Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup opener, as Lionel Messi missed a second-half penalty that proved pivotal to the outcome.

The South American supremos were ahead early on when Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero swiveled and rifled a rocket into the top corner, but the lead didn’t last long as Iceland’s Alfred Finnbogason achieved iconic status as the scorer of their maiden World Cup goal.

The mercurial Messi had the chance to give his side a 2-1 advantage but tamely struck a 64th minute penalty which goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson palmed away.

Here we rate the Iceland players:

ICELAND (4-4-1-1)

Hannes Halldorsson – 9:

Middle name is Thor and he had a thunderous day between the Iceland sticks, palming away Messi’s tame spot-kick and getting a fine hand to Pavon’s teasing effort.

Birkir Saevarsson – 8:

The fact he plays in his homeland and was up against Angel Di Maria may have filled him with dread. Had a busy day but coped manfully.

Kari Arnason – 7:

It’s helpful for Iceland that their two centre-backs are beyond 30 and vastly experienced. He and colleague Sigurdsson leaned on one another.

Ragnar Sigurdsson – 8:

In the face of a dangerous attacking threat, Iceland needed composure at the back. Led his side like a warrior, typified by a brilliant sliding block to deny Banega.

Hordur Magnusson – 8:

Survived a first-half handball appeal but not a second, for a clumsy foul on Aguero. Was otherwise excellent. Forced the save from Caballero that led to the equaliser.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson – 6:

Gave his all for the cause and only left the field when injury forced him to do so just after the hour mark.

Aron Gunnarsson – 6:

Many may have worried about his stamina dealing with a dangerous Argentina attack, but stood up to the task well.

Emil Hallfredsson – 6:

A fearsome sight with the strking bald head. Kept his head in a focused and calm performance.

Birkir Bjarnason – 7:

Sports the flowing locks of a Norse god and flowed forward at every opportunity as well as being focused, linking well with Sigurdsson.

Gylfi Sigurdsson – 7:

The creative spark for a side lacking much of it. Worked well with Bjarnason as Iceland perhaps saw more of the Argentina half than they thought they would.

Alfred Finnbogason – 8:

Enjoyed the distinction of netting Iceland’s first goal at a World Cup, a moment he’ll not soon forget. Worked tirelessly.

SUBS:

Rurik Gislason – 6:

Replaced the injured Gudmundsson and slotted straight in as a cog in the industrious Iceland machine.

Ari Skulason – 6:

Replaced the tiring captain as the ranks were replenished.

Bjorn Sigurdsson N/A:

Late legs for a tiring Iceland that had worked so hard.

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Defiant David de Gea brushes off howler that gifted goal to Cristiano Ronaldo

Alex Broun 16/06/2018
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David de Gea was at fault over Cristiano Ronaldo's second goal

Despite a howler right up there with Lorus Karius’ best, Spain and Manchester United keeper David de Gea has brushed off his mistake in the clash with Portugal at the World Cup on Friday that gifted a second goal to Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I was late to put my knee down and the ball was screwed up,” said the 27-year-old.

“I’m calm. It’s a mistake that can happen, It was a difficult ball, I’ll keep training and try to do things right. I haven’t killed anyone.

“Football is like that, things can happen. They’re mistakes, those who put the gloves on and go out on the field know how difficult it is.”

Madrid-born De Gea then put in an advance strike against any criticism his error might bring him, while seeming to attack Spain’s own fans.

“I like that there are criticisms,” said De Gea cryptically.

“Diego Costa has also been criticised and he scored two goals.

“I would have liked that they defend me more in a difficult moment in my life, with an issue from outside the game.

“I don’t see much that they support me from Spain. My own criticism is bad enough.

“Football is like this, if you make a mistake you’re very bad, if you play well you’re very good. You have to get up.”

De Gea then vowed to keep working and be ready for Spain’s next match, now a must win fixture against Iran on Wednesday.

“I’ll keep training and doing things well,” he stated, “we have an important game against Iran and if we win it will be an important step to qualification.”

“In the end we’ve drawn, not lost, the reaction was great. There it is, it’s happened.

“I count on the support of the coach and my colleagues to continue.  The coach is with me, with all of the team,

“We had a good game, I’m happy with the team’s reaction, I think we deserved more.”

Spain’s new coach Fernando Hierro has other goal-keeping options in his squad with Napoli veteran Pepe Reina and youngster Athletic Bilbao youngster Kepa Arrizabalaga.

De Gea did have one supporter – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho who is currently in Russia as a commentator who leapt to his defence.

“It’s my boy. It hurts me to say it, but he knows. He knows it’s a bad mistake,” said the former Chelsea boss.

“It’s a mistake that he doesn’t make with us, with United. He was our Player of the Season, fantastic performances. But that happens to the best.

“The good thing with the best is that in the next match he’ll be there, not afraid. Confident to go and ready to help the team. It is a goal with David’s face.”

De Gea will be out to prove Mourinho’s words accurate against Iran on Wednesday in Spain’s next outing.

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Argentina player ratings v Iceland as Lionel Messi struggles to a 6, but Sergio Aguero soars to an 8

Matt Jones 16/06/2018
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Lionel Messi missed a golden opportunity to win the game for Argentina.

Argentina struggled to a 1-1 draw in their World Cup opener with Iceland, Lionel Messi missing a second-half penalty that proved pivotal to the outcome.

The South American supremos were ahead early on when Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero swiveled and rifled a rocket into the top corner, but the lead didn’t last long as Iceland’s Alfred Finnbogason achieved iconic status as the scorer of their maiden World Cup goal.

The mercurial Messi had the chance to give his side a 2-1 advantage but tamely struck a 64th minute penalty which goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson palmed away. And the tiny island nation held on to a massive result.

Here we rate the Argentina players:

ARGENTINA (4-2-3-1)

Willy Caballero – 5:

Had a shaky afternoon, including palming Hordur Magnusson’s shot into the path of Finnbogason for Iceland’s equaliser.

Eduardo Salvio – 7:

Inexperienced at international level but was a constant source of creation down Argentina’s right, always an option for the midfield.

Nicolas Otamendi – 7:

Has improved greatly under Pep Guardiola at club level and that is reflected for his country too. Solid, committed and clever in possession.

Marcos Rojo – 5:

Cross/shot led to Aguero’s stunning opener but otherwise looked vulnerable and was culpable for Iceland’s leveller.

Nicolas Tagliafico – 6:

The Ajax man was winning his just his fifth cap, but appears comfortable at the elite level.

Javier Mascherano – 5:

A player whose hallmark has been his bite and tenacity, but time is catching up with the 34-year-old who was overrun in midfield.

Lucas Biglia – 5:

A severe back injury had threatened his World Cup preparations. Therefore it was a surprise to see him start, especially when taken off just after half-time.

Maximiliano Meza – 7:

The ingenuity of the Independiente midfielder was preferred to Juventus pivot Paulo Dybala and he flourished as Di Maria on the opposite flank floundered.

Lionel Messi – 6:

Missed penalty was remarkably the 24th of his career. A blight on an otherwise bright performance – but too often had to drop deep to spark attacks.

Angel Di Maria – 4:

Was expected to have his way with an inferior Iceland defence. Had no impact on the game whatsoever.

Sergio Aguero – 8:

Preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as Argentina’s spearhead and pierced through their icy resolve with his first World Cup goal.

 

SUBS:

Ever Banega – 7:

Instantly added fizz to a side that had been frustrated going forward in the first half.

Cristian Pavon – 7:

Replaced the ineffective Di Maria. Should have won Argentina a second penalty; had a fine shot pushed away by Halldorsson.

Gonzalo Higuain N/A:

Got a cameo after his starting place had been bequeathed to Aguero.

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