MOSCOW – Iceland held the Argentina men’s national football team, also known as La Albiceleste (The Albiceleste), to a draw in a 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup Group D match on Saturday.
Strákarnir okkar (Our Boys) made a stunning first-ever World Cup appearance at Spartak Stadium in Moscow when they snatched a 1-1 draw against 2014 runners-up.
Iceland players, inspired by their thunder clapping fans, signaled their intent from the kick off and sent seven men charging into the box to challenge La Albiceleste’s shaky defense.
The South Americans looked more assured in attack, though, and went ahead. Striker Sergio Agüero fired Argentina ahead in the 19th minute.
Strákarnir okkar, however, proved they are not a team to sit back and sulk.
They exerted pressure in search of the equalizer, forcing Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero to palm Gylfi Sigurdsson’s low shot straight into the path of Alfred Finnbogason. He swept into the unguarded net in the 24th minute to level the score at 1-1.
All eyes were then on La Albiceleste star Lionel Messi to respond, but he was under tight control by Iceland defenders.
Messi was given a second-half opportunity after Iceland defender Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson got entangled with Aguero in the box.
He missed the 64th-minute penalty as Iceland goalie Hannes Por Halldorsson flew to his right and palmed the poorly-struck shot clear.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, the host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay were put in Group A in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The Iran men’s national football team, nicknamed Team Melli, has joined Portugal’s A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
Russia hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup from June 14 to July 15.
Russia opened the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts won the match 5-0.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.