Lionel Messi has admitted he feels responsible and embarrassed after missing a penalty in Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland.
With 64 minutes gone and the scoreline at a 1-1 draw, the 30-year-old Barcelona star’s spot-kick was stopped with ease by Iceland’s keeper Hannes Halldorsson.
Following his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Spain’s 3-3 draw with Portugal on Friday night, Messi was under pressure to deliver but ended up missing his fourth out of seven penalties that he has taken for club and country combined.
Argentina opened the scoring through Sergio Aguero with a sharp turn and shot in the 19th minute. Iceland then levelled through Alfred Finnbogason just four minutes later – giving the nation their first-ever World Cup goal.
In the 64th minute Maxi Meza was felled in the box by Hordur Magnusson. Messi stepped up to take the spot kick, but Halldorsson made a diving save to his right.
Messi nearly found a late winner, but his curling effort in the 81st minute was just wide.
“It would have changed the script. It was the advantage,” Messi said after the match.
“Obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty. They would have opened a little more and we could have found more spaces.
“We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. To start with winning is always important, now we have to think about Croatia. We will try to pass this quickly.”
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli dismissed his star player’s penalty set-back as a “statistic” and praised his attitude in a difficult game.
“To evaluate and characterise Lionel Messi’s work is difficult because it was an uncomfortable match for him,” he said.
“Iceland played very defensively, blocking all spaces but we did everything we could to win. Leo is very committed to Argentina.
“We always come to win so that’s why there is a certain amount of frustration.”