By 90Min
June 18, 2018

Argentina icon Diego Maradona has come out to defend Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi after the 30-year-old missed a decisive penalty for his country in their opening match at the World Cup.

La Albiceleste took a deserved lead through Sergio Agüero early in the first half against Iceland but Augsburg striker Alfred Finnbogason levelled the scoreline minutes later with a clever first time finish.

Argentina were then awarded the chance to reclaim the lead midway through the second half when Independiente midfielder Maximiliano Meza was brought down in the penalty area by Hördur Björgvin Magnússon.

Messi stepped up to take the spot kick but his effort was easily saved by Iceland's Hannes Halldórsson, with the Barcelona star latter admitting that he was left "hurt" by the incident on Saturday.

Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

But former Argentina international Maradona has come to his compatriot's aid, insisting that La Albiceleste's failure to beat the Nordic underdogs wasn't down to Messi's penalty miss.

"I missed five penalties in a row and I was still Diego Armando Maradona," he told Telesur (via Goal). "The game and the two points lost by the team are not down to his penalty.

"He showed his face and gave everything he had to give. The 'kid' did his duty.

"Seeing him on the field, he was pretty pissed off. Just like I would have been. It was all him, he always had to shrug two players off and when he did, there was no pass open." 

Argentina fans will be hoping that Messi is back to his best when they take on Croatia later this week. Jorge Sampaoli's side will then face off against Nigeria in Saint Petersburg with a place in the knockout stages still up for grabs.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)