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Sainsbury's chief executive has admitted that the UK's competition watchdog will probably demand store disposals in order for the supermarket's merger with Asda to be approved, as he was grilled by a committee of MPs on the details of the deal. Mike Coupe told the environment, food and rural affairs committee that there were "less than 100 but probably more than 50" towns and cities in the country with just a Sainsbury's and Asda. When asked if he accepted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) might demand stores are sold off to rivals to allay fears that the £15bn merger would lead to less choice for consumers, Mr Coupe replied "I think it is likely". Mr Coupe has always maintained that no stores would be shuttered as a result of a deal between two of the UK's biggest supermarkets. However, he told MPs he could not speculate on "what the CMA may or may not do". He made the comments during a three-hour long committee meeting in which he and Asda boss Roger Burnley were questioned by MPs and criticised for not being honest about the terms of the deal and accused of spinning "nursery rhymes and Micky Mouse tales" by committee chairman and conservative MP Neil Parish. When they avoided questions relating to their respective business models, buying practices and the prices they pay producers, Mr Parish said: "I’m sorry to laugh but this morning we’ve had this nursery rhyme that you don’t know how the Asda system works, and they don't know how your system works. Where do Asda and Sainsbury's overlap most? "Well, you are getting into bed together and are going to make all these savings and you don’t know how the other works. This is a massive deal across the City and huge sums are involved and you don't know this. I'm sorry, it's just not believable." Mr Parish questioned both bosses on how the merged company would achieve the 10pc price reduction on grocery products it had promised, without hurting farmers and primary producers. Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury's He said: "We are being told a story this morning that suits you and Sainbsury's but it is not true what we are getting. We know that in the end it’ll be the suppliers and processors that will pay your 10pc and I am absolutely convinced by this. You cannot make 10pc savings in the market without somebody paying for it. This is absolutely bizarre. "You have given us Mickey Mouse figures. Please give us reality." Mr Burnley said a merger would "open up markets" to small producers, rather than to squeeze them, but wouldn't clarify where the price cuts would come from. "This is about customers demanding value and lower prices," he said. Sainsbury's-Asda merger in numbers When asked the same question, Mr Coupe suggested the supermarket would pay for price cuts on things like milk and cheese by securing better purchase prices from big international brands. He said: "The deal is predicated on a very simple idea that if we are buying Weetabix at one price and Asda at a different one, whichever is the lower price is what we would expect to achieve as a combined entity."
CMA 'likely' to demand store disposals, Sainsbury's boss tells MPs
Sainsbury's chief executive has admitted that the UK's competition watchdog will probably demand store disposals in order for the supermarket's merger with Asda to be approved, as he was grilled by a committee of MPs on the details of the deal. Mike Coupe told the environment, food and rural affairs committee that there were "less than 100 but probably more than 50" towns and cities in the country with just a Sainsbury's and Asda. When asked if he accepted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) might demand stores are sold off to rivals to allay fears that the £15bn merger would lead to less choice for consumers, Mr Coupe replied "I think it is likely". Mr Coupe has always maintained that no stores would be shuttered as a result of a deal between two of the UK's biggest supermarkets. However, he told MPs he could not speculate on "what the CMA may or may not do". He made the comments during a three-hour long committee meeting in which he and Asda boss Roger Burnley were questioned by MPs and criticised for not being honest about the terms of the deal and accused of spinning "nursery rhymes and Micky Mouse tales" by committee chairman and conservative MP Neil Parish. When they avoided questions relating to their respective business models, buying practices and the prices they pay producers, Mr Parish said: "I’m sorry to laugh but this morning we’ve had this nursery rhyme that you don’t know how the Asda system works, and they don't know how your system works. Where do Asda and Sainsbury's overlap most? "Well, you are getting into bed together and are going to make all these savings and you don’t know how the other works. This is a massive deal across the City and huge sums are involved and you don't know this. I'm sorry, it's just not believable." Mr Parish questioned both bosses on how the merged company would achieve the 10pc price reduction on grocery products it had promised, without hurting farmers and primary producers. Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury's He said: "We are being told a story this morning that suits you and Sainbsury's but it is not true what we are getting. We know that in the end it’ll be the suppliers and processors that will pay your 10pc and I am absolutely convinced by this. You cannot make 10pc savings in the market without somebody paying for it. This is absolutely bizarre. "You have given us Mickey Mouse figures. Please give us reality." Mr Burnley said a merger would "open up markets" to small producers, rather than to squeeze them, but wouldn't clarify where the price cuts would come from. "This is about customers demanding value and lower prices," he said. Sainsbury's-Asda merger in numbers When asked the same question, Mr Coupe suggested the supermarket would pay for price cuts on things like milk and cheese by securing better purchase prices from big international brands. He said: "The deal is predicated on a very simple idea that if we are buying Weetabix at one price and Asda at a different one, whichever is the lower price is what we would expect to achieve as a combined entity."
Sainsbury's chief executive has admitted that the UK's competition watchdog will probably demand store disposals in order for the supermarket's merger with Asda to be approved, as he was grilled by a committee of MPs on the details of the deal. Mike Coupe told the environment, food and rural affairs committee that there were "less than 100 but probably more than 50" towns and cities in the country with just a Sainsbury's and Asda. When asked if he accepted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) might demand stores are sold off to rivals to allay fears that the £15bn merger would lead to less choice for consumers, Mr Coupe replied "I think it is likely". Mr Coupe has always maintained that no stores would be shuttered as a result of a deal between two of the UK's biggest supermarkets. However, he told MPs he could not speculate on "what the CMA may or may not do". He made the comments during a three-hour long committee meeting in which he and Asda boss Roger Burnley were questioned by MPs and criticised for not being honest about the terms of the deal and accused of spinning "nursery rhymes and Micky Mouse tales" by committee chairman and conservative MP Neil Parish. When they avoided questions relating to their respective business models, buying practices and the prices they pay producers, Mr Parish said: "I’m sorry to laugh but this morning we’ve had this nursery rhyme that you don’t know how the Asda system works, and they don't know how your system works. Where do Asda and Sainsbury's overlap most? "Well, you are getting into bed together and are going to make all these savings and you don’t know how the other works. This is a massive deal across the City and huge sums are involved and you don't know this. I'm sorry, it's just not believable." Mr Parish questioned both bosses on how the merged company would achieve the 10pc price reduction on grocery products it had promised, without hurting farmers and primary producers. Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury's He said: "We are being told a story this morning that suits you and Sainbsury's but it is not true what we are getting. We know that in the end it’ll be the suppliers and processors that will pay your 10pc and I am absolutely convinced by this. You cannot make 10pc savings in the market without somebody paying for it. This is absolutely bizarre. "You have given us Mickey Mouse figures. Please give us reality." Mr Burnley said a merger would "open up markets" to small producers, rather than to squeeze them, but wouldn't clarify where the price cuts would come from. "This is about customers demanding value and lower prices," he said. Sainsbury's-Asda merger in numbers When asked the same question, Mr Coupe suggested the supermarket would pay for price cuts on things like milk and cheese by securing better purchase prices from big international brands. He said: "The deal is predicated on a very simple idea that if we are buying Weetabix at one price and Asda at a different one, whichever is the lower price is what we would expect to achieve as a combined entity."
CMA 'likely' to demand store disposals, Sainsbury's boss tells MPs
Sainsbury's chief executive has admitted that the UK's competition watchdog will probably demand store disposals in order for the supermarket's merger with Asda to be approved, as he was grilled by a committee of MPs on the details of the deal. Mike Coupe told the environment, food and rural affairs committee that there were "less than 100 but probably more than 50" towns and cities in the country with just a Sainsbury's and Asda. When asked if he accepted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) might demand stores are sold off to rivals to allay fears that the £15bn merger would lead to less choice for consumers, Mr Coupe replied "I think it is likely". Mr Coupe has always maintained that no stores would be shuttered as a result of a deal between two of the UK's biggest supermarkets. However, he told MPs he could not speculate on "what the CMA may or may not do". He made the comments during a three-hour long committee meeting in which he and Asda boss Roger Burnley were questioned by MPs and criticised for not being honest about the terms of the deal and accused of spinning "nursery rhymes and Micky Mouse tales" by committee chairman and conservative MP Neil Parish. When they avoided questions relating to their respective business models, buying practices and the prices they pay producers, Mr Parish said: "I’m sorry to laugh but this morning we’ve had this nursery rhyme that you don’t know how the Asda system works, and they don't know how your system works. Where do Asda and Sainsbury's overlap most? "Well, you are getting into bed together and are going to make all these savings and you don’t know how the other works. This is a massive deal across the City and huge sums are involved and you don't know this. I'm sorry, it's just not believable." Mr Parish questioned both bosses on how the merged company would achieve the 10pc price reduction on grocery products it had promised, without hurting farmers and primary producers. Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury's He said: "We are being told a story this morning that suits you and Sainbsury's but it is not true what we are getting. We know that in the end it’ll be the suppliers and processors that will pay your 10pc and I am absolutely convinced by this. You cannot make 10pc savings in the market without somebody paying for it. This is absolutely bizarre. "You have given us Mickey Mouse figures. Please give us reality." Mr Burnley said a merger would "open up markets" to small producers, rather than to squeeze them, but wouldn't clarify where the price cuts would come from. "This is about customers demanding value and lower prices," he said. Sainsbury's-Asda merger in numbers When asked the same question, Mr Coupe suggested the supermarket would pay for price cuts on things like milk and cheese by securing better purchase prices from big international brands. He said: "The deal is predicated on a very simple idea that if we are buying Weetabix at one price and Asda at a different one, whichever is the lower price is what we would expect to achieve as a combined entity."
FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley vs Liverpool - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - January 1, 2018 General view of a corner flag before the match Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Premier League - Burnley vs Liverpool
FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley vs Liverpool - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - January 1, 2018 General view of a corner flag before the match Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen will host Burnley in the club's first European trip for over 50 years.
No passports required - Burnley's 51-year wait for European tie sees Clarets draw... Aberdeen
Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen will host Burnley in the club's first European trip for over 50 years.
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Fixtures, squad news, next matches and group analysis
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Fixtures, squad news, next matches and group analysis
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Fixtures, squad news, next matches and group analysis
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Fixtures, squad news, next matches and group analysis
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Fixtures, squad news, next matches and group analysis
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Fixtures, squad news, next matches and group analysis
England's 2018 squad will play Panama on Sunday off the back of a strong win in their first World Cup game against Tunisia. When Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad in May much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 - Tunisia 1 England 2 Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - April 28, 2018 Burnley's James Tarkowski Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Premier League - Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion
Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - April 28, 2018 Burnley's James Tarkowski Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Gareth Southgate's men will hope to have got their campaign off to a winning start in their opening match against Tunisia, ahead of this game against Panama, as they attempt to break a cycle of heartache and humiliation at major tournaments that has plunged the birthplace of football to its lowest ebb. A loss to Iceland in the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship was perhaps the ultimate embarrassment. Or maybe that came when England endured their shortest World Cup campaign two years earlier - only in contention for eight days. Before that, there were penalty shoot-out losses in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. And before that, who could forget Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal that denied England in the World Cup semi-finals in 1986? It's no surprise that the nation's expectations are low heading to Russia. England may have won the 1966 World Cup, but have only reached the semi-finals of a tournament twice since then. When is it? Sunday, June 24, 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. What TV channel is it on? The BBC. World Cup 2018 | All you need to know Latest team news England Gareth Southgate has named a bold World Cup squad focused on promise rather than experience. Uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold is celebrating a maiden England call-up but Adam Lallana, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere miss out. After months of speculation, scrutiny and conjecture, the 23 men charged with bringing the country success in Russia were revealed on Wednesday, May 16, along with the five-strong stand-by list for the tournament. England's joint second-most capped goalkeeper Hart was excluded from both lists as were Arsenal midfielder Wilshere and Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand - but Lallana provided the biggest shock. While the Liverpool attacking midfielder has not started a Premier League match since New Year's Day, he is a favourite of Southgate. However, his lack of fitness means he has to settle with a stand-by place alongside Jake Livermore, Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. England squad | World Cup 2018 Gary Cahill received a surprise reprieve having been excluded from March's squad - the only member of the group to have reached a half-century of caps. But the most striking inclusion is uncapped teenager Alexander-Arnold. An impressive performer in Liverpool's run to the Champions League final, the 19-year-old briefly trained with Southgate's side in March and has now been named in the senior squad for the first time. The other uncapped squad member is Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, having been selected ahead of 75-cap Hart to take the third spot behind Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was rewarded for his fine form and versatile Fabian Delph came in after winning the title at Manchester City, despite last playing for his country in November 2015. Ashley Young, rejuvenated at Manchester United, joined Danny Rose as left-back options instead of Bertrand, who will feel hard done by considering he played a key role for Southgate. Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. World Cup 2018 venues What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. Best-priced accumulators | New customer offers What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table World Cup 2018 Group G What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
England vs Panama, World Cup 2018: When is England's next game, what time does it start and what TV channel is it on?
What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Gareth Southgate's men will hope to have got their campaign off to a winning start in their opening match against Tunisia, ahead of this game against Panama, as they attempt to break a cycle of heartache and humiliation at major tournaments that has plunged the birthplace of football to its lowest ebb. A loss to Iceland in the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship was perhaps the ultimate embarrassment. Or maybe that came when England endured their shortest World Cup campaign two years earlier - only in contention for eight days. Before that, there were penalty shoot-out losses in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. And before that, who could forget Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal that denied England in the World Cup semi-finals in 1986? It's no surprise that the nation's expectations are low heading to Russia. England may have won the 1966 World Cup, but have only reached the semi-finals of a tournament twice since then. When is it? Sunday, June 24, 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. What TV channel is it on? The BBC. World Cup 2018 | All you need to know Latest team news England Gareth Southgate has named a bold World Cup squad focused on promise rather than experience. Uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold is celebrating a maiden England call-up but Adam Lallana, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere miss out. After months of speculation, scrutiny and conjecture, the 23 men charged with bringing the country success in Russia were revealed on Wednesday, May 16, along with the five-strong stand-by list for the tournament. England's joint second-most capped goalkeeper Hart was excluded from both lists as were Arsenal midfielder Wilshere and Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand - but Lallana provided the biggest shock. While the Liverpool attacking midfielder has not started a Premier League match since New Year's Day, he is a favourite of Southgate. However, his lack of fitness means he has to settle with a stand-by place alongside Jake Livermore, Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. England squad | World Cup 2018 Gary Cahill received a surprise reprieve having been excluded from March's squad - the only member of the group to have reached a half-century of caps. But the most striking inclusion is uncapped teenager Alexander-Arnold. An impressive performer in Liverpool's run to the Champions League final, the 19-year-old briefly trained with Southgate's side in March and has now been named in the senior squad for the first time. The other uncapped squad member is Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, having been selected ahead of 75-cap Hart to take the third spot behind Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was rewarded for his fine form and versatile Fabian Delph came in after winning the title at Manchester City, despite last playing for his country in November 2015. Ashley Young, rejuvenated at Manchester United, joined Danny Rose as left-back options instead of Bertrand, who will feel hard done by considering he played a key role for Southgate. Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. World Cup 2018 venues What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. Best-priced accumulators | New customer offers What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table World Cup 2018 Group G What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
World Cup 2018 is with us at last and the England squad - picked, according to Gareth Southgate, to excite the nation - are preparing for a group that includes a favourite, an undefeated qualifier and a team that provided one of the stories of the tournament just by qualifying. When Southgate revealed his 23-man squad much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 Tunisia vs England (Volgograd), 7pm BST. Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
England World Cup 2018 guide: Match dates, squad, fixtures and group analysis
World Cup 2018 is with us at last and the England squad - picked, according to Gareth Southgate, to excite the nation - are preparing for a group that includes a favourite, an undefeated qualifier and a team that provided one of the stories of the tournament just by qualifying. When Southgate revealed his 23-man squad much of the focus landed on Adam Lallana, the big-name omission, who had to make do with the standby list. But Southgate believes, with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his young England squad offers plenty of encouragement. “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” said Southgate. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. “It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.” Dreamt of going to a World Cup since I was a kid. Today that dream come true, an honour to represent the 3 Lions this summer! �� @Englandpic.twitter.com/e6c8agtVar— Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) May 16, 2018 Who made England's 23-man squad? Here's who will feature in England's World Cup squad: Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea). Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal). Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley). Gareth Southgate decided to leave Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere at home and has picked a squad heavily-loaded with defenders, reflective of his desire to play with three centre-backs and wing-backs. Trent-Alexander-Arnold could win his first England in Russia while the inclusion of Ruben Loftus-Cheek also speaks to Southgate's bold approach. Harry Kane will captain the side. Who is in your starting team? England Formation Builder Who is in England's group? England are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Belgium: One of the favourites for the competition with a dazzling array of talent. England will be familiar with most of their key players: Thibuat Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku among others, all play in the Premier League. England's toughest opponent by a distance. Tunisia: Potentially tricky opposition who will look to frustrate England. Were unbeaten in qualifying and Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri could be a danger man. Nevertheless, a team England should beat if they have aspirations to reach the latter stages. Panama: One of the stories of the tournament, having qualified for the finals for the first time in dramatic fashion. England will be heavy favorites to swat them aside. When do England play? Monday June 18 Tunisia vs England (Volgograd), 7pm BST. Sunday June 24 England vs Panama (Nizhny Novgorod), 1pm BST. Thursday June 28 England vs Belgium (Kaliningrad), 7pm BST. Should England progress from their group, their last-16 match will be on Monday July 2 (if they win the group) or Tuesday July 2 (if they finish runners-up in the group). Should England progress beyond that stage, their quarter-final will either be: Friday 6 July Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm BST. OR Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm BST. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the rest... Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm BST. Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm BST. Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm BST. Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BST. How will England line-up - and what are their tactics? JJ Bull explains how crucial the wing-backs will be to Gareth Southgate's campaign in Russia. What happened in 2014? England were eliminated in the group stages with just one point and two goals to show from their two games. They were beaten 2-1 by Italy in their opening game despite an encouraging performance, before Luis Suarez's goal confirmed their exit in the second match against Uruguay. A dead rubber against Costa Rica finished goalless. What is Gareth Southgate saying? “The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” said Southgate. “We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum. “The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it. “We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.” Adam Lallana was omitted after missing most of the season through injury Credit: Getty images Goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder Jack Wilshere and left-back Ryan Bertrand have all been omitted and not placed on Southgate’s five-man standby list that includes Lallana, Tom Heaton, Jake Livermore James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook. “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved,” said Southgate, whose goalkeepers are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. “With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season. “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season, but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Southgate says the three goalkeepers he chose have had 'better seasons' than Hart Credit: Getty images “Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.” Lallana has not started a Liverpool game since the beginning of March and Southgate has decided the 30-year-old cannot be risked. He is on Southgate’s list of standbys in case of injuries, but Lallana will be devastated not to be among the 23 players guaranteed a place on the plane. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article Southgate tried to offer some consolation by saying: “History tells us that one of those standby players may end up in the squad, as it’s very unusual for us to get through the end of the season and our two preparation games without any issues. “All of the guys on standby have been really professional in their approach to this. They recognise there’s still an opportunity and we’ve had a lot of conversations over a period of time with them about their situation.” And here is how the squad was announced on May 16: 3:47PM Wonder what the voicemail said... The one call you don’t want to miss!!...���� #WC2018pic.twitter.com/thH8CvavWA— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) May 16, 2018 3:33PM You picked largely the same players as Southgate Telegraph readers agree with all but three of Southgate’s choices Using our unique squad selector tool over the last few months, our readers chose their preferred 23 England players to go to Russia. As it turns out, more than 50 per cent of you wanted 20 of Southgate's 23 on the plane. The majority of you, however, did not pick Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Welbeck or Fabian Delph. 3:24PM An inexperienced squad The 23 players have just 449 caps between them - an average of 19.5, which isn't very many at all. They also have just three tournament goals between the lot of them: Danny Welbeck at Euro 2012, and Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier at Euro 2016. Maybe Southgate is taking Gary Linker's advice and building for future competitions. 3:11PM Dele's excited It's an honour to be named in the England squad for the World Cup. It's a dream come true! Get me to Russia!! ��⚽️ #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/D8EjN8z5EI— Dele (@dele_official) May 16, 2018 3:05PM Ashley Young achieves a dream Maybe this picture said I was gonna live my dream and go to a World Cup... dreams do come true ���������� pic.twitter.com/kSM8VORdp0— Ashley Young (@youngy18) May 16, 2018 2:58PM Nawwww Congratulations to @Popey1992 on his call up to the @England World Cup 2018 squad, from Ram Meadow to Russia. pic.twitter.com/mpGWMyXB2v— Bury Town F.C. (@BuryTownFC) May 16, 2018 2:52PM Lovely stuff, Marcus Rashford After years of you standing on the touch line in the cold and rain, Mum we're off to the World Cup! ������ pic.twitter.com/JOCj5oBCtN— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) May 16, 2018 2:18PM Sweeping changes Only five players in Southgate's 23-man squad from the 23 picked by Hodgson for 2014: Cahill, Jones, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling. As comparison, 12 from 2006 WC squad were picked in 2010— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) May 16, 2018 2:16PM By the way This is how the England squad was announced before the list was published in full: For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. pic.twitter.com/YecUWPUZfJ— England (@England) May 16, 2018 2:10PM Back-up list These five players are on the reserve list: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana 2:09PM The headlines No Adam Lallana in the squad Danny Welbeck and Ruben Loftus-Cheek make the cut Jake Livermore misses out Plenty of options at centre-back, with Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Stones, Dier and Walker selected. 2:06PM Squad in full Goalkeepers Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope Defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young Midfielders Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek Forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy 2:04PM The England squad is here 1:59PM Not long now If that 2pm estimate was correct for the squad announcement, then we will know England's World Cup squad very, very soon indeed. 1:57PM Rumours galore There is a sudden surge of excitement on Twitter after Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey posted this picture. Take note of the 'Humble Lion' caption. ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 Jamaica-born Bailey is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting players, and there had been rumours he may qualify through his grandparents, two of whom have British passports. Fifa rules state that a player can only qualify to play for a country if their grandparents were born in that country which, as far as my research tells me, is not the case for Bailey, meaning he would not qualify to play for England. NB: There is a chance I am wrong about this. 1:43PM Jack makes other plans ���� let me know the dates and I'm in https://t.co/6PgPvhg77X— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) May 16, 2018 1:33PM So, what's still up in the air? There is a core group of players who will definitely be in the squad, and after this morning's revelations, there are only a few spots still up for grabs. There is probably a centre-back spot that will be contested by Harry Maguire and Phil Jones. Cahill's inclusion could suggest Southgate will go with experience in defence (favouring Jones), but having already picked Cahill he may want a younger player (favouring Maguire). Adam Lallana will probably make the cut, but he has only played 235 minutes of Premier League football all season, so you could understand why Southgate might have reservations. His recent run of injuries will also mean that, if he is named, the back-up midfielders will be on high alert. Will Adam Lallana be given another chance to prove his fitness? Credit: Getty images Support for Ruben Loftus-Cheek's inclusion has gathered pace. Will he make the cut or will Southgate go left-field with his final midfielder? Danny Welbeck will likely be included, but that isn't certain by any stretch. 12:51PM Make football come home Why not have some fun mapping out England's path to glory with our predictor tool? World Cup predictor 12:37PM It's all go today While Premier League clubs are parting ways with managers all over the shop (well, here and here), buzz is building around the squad that England will take to Russia. There has been a fair bit of bemusement about Wilshere's omission (not least from this journalist), but the decisions to take Cahill and Alexander-Arnold will be widely supported, I reckon. Some experience and some youth: Southgate is pleasing everyone. Alexander-Arnold has been a roaring success at Liverpool Credit: Getty images 12:20PM Exclusive: Cahill and Alexander-Arnold are on the plane Matt Lawreports: Gary Cahill has been named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England World Cup squad that will be officially revealed later today. And Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been called up, despite being uncapped at senior level. You can read the full story here. 11:59AM Not long now Today is the day: England's squad for the 2018 World Cup will be announced this afternoon. Everyone has their own opinion over how the final 23 should look, but the only one that matters is that of Gareth Southgate. Here's me trying to second guess the England manager: England's World Cup 2018 squad - ranked We think the squad will be named around 2pm, so there's a little time to wait yet - and plenty of time to discuss Southgate's options. He has already let Wilshere, Hart and Bertrand know that they won't be going to Russia, which leaves two outfield spots free (presuming Nick Pope goes as third-choice goalkeeper). Will Ruben Loftus-Cheek sneak in? Will Danny Welbeck go to another major tournament? Is there any chance of a complete curveball in the shape of someone like Ryan Sessegnon or Ademola Lookman? Let's see what Southgate decides.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 draw against an easily underestimated Iceland team but would ultimately still leave France victorious by the end of the tournament. It is a lesson that should at least provide some perspective amid the temptation to suggest that Ronaldo has already struck some of knockout blow in any personal World Cup duel with Messi, even if round one has belonged so emphatically to the Portuguese. Time had almost stood still in Sochi on Friday as Ronaldo drew several deep breaths and settled himself before delivering the free-kick that completed both his hat-trick and further ignited this World Cup. As well as the tame penalty that was saved here by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, Messi also wasted a flurry of comparable late opportunities with free-kicks. “It would have changed the script - obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty,” said Messi. “We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. They did not want to play but closed well.” Even the presence of Diego Maradona excitedly urging his team on and sucking a cigar in one of the executive boxes directly in front of a sign reminding fans about the stadium smoking ban could not sufficiently inspire Argentina. It is early days but, with further tricky group matches to follow against Croatia and Nigeria, you have to wonder if the collective scars from a succession of international near misses are beginning to weigh heavily on this group. Alfred Finnbogason celebrates after scoring Iceland's equaliser Credit: Getty images Messi also missed a penalty in the final of the 2016 Copa America and he provoked surprisingly little confidence as he stood over the ball here. Halldorsson later revealed that he was confident in knowing which way Messi would shoot, even if the biggest mistake was surely in striking the ball at such a comfortable height. “It was a dream come true to save it,” said Halldorsson. “It was a situation I knew could come up. I had looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and I had a good feeling he would go that way today.” Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli immediately described Messi’s penalty as “in the past” but conceded that it had been an uncomfortable game for his talisman. “We should have hurt our opponent more and I don’t think our transitions were fast enough - we came to win against a team with a lot of people in their box that stopped us capitalising on the ball possession,” he said. Although the final statistics showed that Argentina had indeed had 78 per cent of the ball and created more than treble Iceland’s attempts on goal, that still only told a very skewed story. Yes, Iceland were certainly physical, committed, well organised and hard working but they also played with an attacking intent that regularly troubled Argentina defensively. Indeed, after two early Messi free-kicks were almost turned in by Nicolas Otamendi and then Nicolas Tagliafico, Iceland missed two wonderful opportunities to take the lead. First Alfred Finnbogason crossed for Gyfli Sigurdsson, whose effort was saved by Willy Caballero and then Birkir Bjarnason shot wastefully wide when he should really have punished a poor clearance by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Messi had a frustrating afternoon Credit: Getty images It appeared that Argentina’s superb cast of attacking talent would ruthlessly punish such profligacy when Sergio Aguero, who had been preferred to Gonzalo Higuain as the main central striker, brilliantly controlled a powerful Marcos Rojo pass before then turning and shooting beyond Halldorsson. It was certainly crucial that Iceland should respond quickly and another mistake by Caballero helped them draw level within four minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson had crossed and, with Cabellero and right-back Eduardo Salvio both missing chances to clear, Finnbogason stayed calm to mark Iceland’s first World Cup match with a goal that is destined to be immortalised in their football folklore. Sampaoli was happier with Argentina’s performance thereafter but, with the team so built around Messi and his radar deserting him, they rarely looked likely to fashion an equaliser elsewhere. There was a hopeful penalty appeal when Salvio’s cross inadvertently struck the arm of Ragnar Sigurdsson and then Messi’s penalty miss after Hordur Magnusson had bundled Aguero to the floor. Argentina should also have had another penalty when Birkir Saevarsson tripped Cristian Pavon but, with referee Szymon Marciniak and his video assistant referee Mark Geiger both evidently concluding that it was not a clear-cut decision, the appeal was waved away. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Pavon had just replaced Angel di Maria and Argentina were certainly more effective after that change. Yet Iceland still never eased in their phenomenal work-rate and, with Messi clearly growing frustrating and a certainly doomed inevitability growing with every missed shot, they deserved yet another famous result. When later questioned about celebrating a draw as if they had won, they were also rightly unapologetic. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” asked Halldorsson. “We were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against the best player in the world, in our first World Cup. It was exactly the same as in the Euros. We celebrated a point against Cristiano Ronaldo as we did against Messi. We know how important every point is to get out of the group.” Another journalist asked if the players could actually enjoy their direct style of football? “I think yes,” said manager Heimir Hallgrimsson. “We have to play in a special way because they have such superior skills. We have a clear identity and everyone is on board. It is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different and not achieve anything.” The players and fans certainly looked like they were having the time of their lives, which was rather more than you could say for Messi. 4:13PM No joy today Lionel 7 - Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening matchday of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi's none. Rivals.#ARGISL#ARG#POR#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/Tjp8KkGkAG— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018 Argentina fail to win their opening match at the #WorldCup for the first time since a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon in 1990, ending a streak of six wins. #ARG#ARGISL— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 16, 2018 4:09PM VAR controversy Do we have our first VAR concern of the tournament (it was only a matter of time, wasn't it)? Everyone is seemingly in agreement (both on telly and around the Telegraph office) that Pavon was indeed fouled in the box in the 77th minute, and the VAR should have overturned the referee's decision not to award a penalty. Maybe Messi would have missed it anyway... 4:01PM Truly brilliant stuff The World Cup is, of course, about seeing the best players on the planet, and we all want to see them at their very best, but who (outside Argentina) can possibly be unhappy that Iceland have managed to stop Leo Messi and co. and pulled off that most improbable of results? England fans shouldn't be at all surprised, but what a performance it was from the Icelandics. Messi missed a penalty with the scores tied at 1-1 Credit: Reuters 3:55PM FULL TIME - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland have done it! The smallest nation ever to play at a World Cup have taken a point off Lionel Messi's Argentina. And he looks absolutely crestfallen. 3:54PM 90 mins +5 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi hits the wall. 3:54PM 90 mins +4 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 I think this is what they call squeaky bum time. It's nerve-shreddingly tense. Iceland are doing anything legal or illegal to stop Messi. Hallfredsson scythes him down 30 yards from goal, left of centre. Messi is over the free-kick. 3:51PM 90 mins +2 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Messi chance, this time on his right foot and he gets it all wrong. It's skews well off target. 3:51PM 90 mins +1 - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland are doing brilliantly at slowing the game down, making every free-kick take an age, and giving themselves some time to rest between each wave of attack. Hallfredsson is fouled and 70 seconds is eaten up preparing to boot it as far up the pitch as possible. Textbook. 3:49PM 90 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Five minutes added on. Five minutes for Iceland to weather the storm. 3:47PM 89 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Finnbogason is struggling with cramp. He'll be replaced by Sigurdarson. 3:47PM 87 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What a save from Halldorsson, as Pavon's cross misses everyone and looks like it's going to sneak inside the far post, but the keeper flings himself left to turn it away. Mascherano then shoots straight at the Halldorsson from 25 yards. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:43PM 84 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another Argentina sub: Higuain replaces Meza. Aguero, Messi and Higuain all on the pitch now. Can Iceland hold out? 3:42PM 82 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's getting scrappy - there a lots of tired legs out there, and Argentina break towards goal, losing the ball and winning it back a couple of times. Messi loses it, Meza gets it back. Messi gets a yard on the edge of the box, it opens up for him, is this the moment? He moves onto his left and bends towards goal, the keeper is sprawling right, flings himself towards his post, but the balls sails wide. Iceland survive. 3:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi pulls off the shoulder of the last defenders, pulls the ball down beautifully, but it just won't drop quickly enough for him and an Iceland toe nips in to take it away from him before he can shoot. Argentina have had more than enough chances, but it remains level in Moscow. 10 minutes left for either team to find a winner. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 3:37PM 77 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Pavon is straight in the action - and he goes down in the box! Huge penalty appeal, the referee says no, but is that only because he has already given them one? Replays show there was definitely a touch, but the VAR isn't even consulted. It's a strange one, this. Not clear and obvious enough to overturn, presumably.. Big, big call. 3:35PM 75 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 More pressure from Argentina; they are turning the screw but no breakthrough yet. Some subs: Cristian Pavon replaces Angel Di Maria for Argentina. Ari Skulson comes on for Aron Gunnarsson for Iceland. 3:31PM 70 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 It's all Argentina at the moment (maybe Iceland are tiring, after all) and the Icelandics just can't get out of their half. A free-kick deep in their own territory provides some respite but they cannot get the ball to stick up top and Argentina come again. Messi tries to work it onto his left on the edge of the box but just can't lose his marker. The ball eventually falls to Banega but his curling effort is easily saved. 3:26PM 67 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi sends a free-kick over the bar, Iceland race up the other end and win a corner, but it comes to nothing. What a game this is. 3:26PM 65 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi has a history of missing penalties in big moments (see Chelsea 2012 Champions League semi-final, for example), and he's done it again here. It was a decent save but a really poor penalty if you're the best player the world has ever seen. Attempt Saved: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Lionel Messi, 64 min) Gislason replaced Gudmundsson sometime during all that drama. 3:23PM MESSI MISSES THE PENALTY! Halldorsson guesses the right way and Messi's penalty is poor! He palms away and it remains 1-1! 3:22PM Penalty to Argentina! Messi lofts the ball into the box and Magnusson is the wrong side of an Argentina forward. He brings him down and the ref points to the spot! 3:21PM 62 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A sad sight for Iceland (and Burnley) as Joey Gudmundsson slumps to the turf before limping off injured. He will be replaced shortly, but for now Iceland are playing with 10. 3:19PM 59 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi breaks into some space in midfield, and feeds Banega to his left. He winds up from 25 yards but Ragnar Sigurdsson flies in to block heroically. What a challenge. It's hard to see how these Icelandic players aren't tiring. The work they are putting in is astonishing. 3:16PM 56 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi is growing into this, and he very nearly manages to shake off the two, three, four, maybe five players snapping at his heels on the edge of the Iceland box. He can't quite do it alone, and feeds Aguero, but he has two men on him quickly and the chance is snuffed out. 3:13PM 53 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina are probing, patiently passing back and forth, across the pitch, but for now at least, they can't find a way through. Manager Jorge Sampaoli decides he needs a bit more creativity in midfield, bringing Ever Banega, more of a No 10, on for Lucas Biglia. 3:09PM 49 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Lovely, lovely move from Iceland, with Gunnarsson winning possession in the middle, before feeding Finngobason, who lays off to Bjarnason. He combines well with Sigurdsson but the cross into the box is too high for Finnbogason. 3:07PM 47 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Argentina start the second period the way they began the first: on the front foot. Di Maria wins an early corner from which Otamendi heads over. 3:04PM Here goes with the second half Argentina get the second half under way. 3:04PM Maradona is smoking a cigar while he watches From a local colleague... Diego Maradona watching Argentina inside the Spartak stadium casually smoking a cigar. pic.twitter.com/5lg052xa2X— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 16, 2018 3:03PM The viking clap has been in full swing Iceland's fans have been in fine voice Credit: AP 2:50PM Half time - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 What. A. Half. We all knew what Iceland were capable of but still I don't know how many people could have predicted this. They are so far from a limited, defensive side. This is a team who do the basics brilliantly but they are not at all scared to have a go. Aguero put Argentina ahead with a great strike, but Iceland hit straight back and have come the closer to taking the lead since. Gripping stuff. Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:47PM 45 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland line up another long throw, but take it short. Then, Arnason's long, raking ball into the box is taken down outstandingly by Finnbogason. He spots Sigurdsson ghosting into the box, and the Everton man dances between two defenders, opens his body up and caresses an effort towards the far corner, but Caballero gets down to save well. 30 seconds later, he sends a volley wide of the post from the edge of the box. Miss: Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Gylfi Sigurdsson, 45 + 1 min) 2:45PM 44 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Iceland load the box for another long throw. Otamendi clears, and Messi has the chance to counter... but his first touch, incredibly, lets him down. 2:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Another penalty shout - the Argentina players surround the referee, sure that the ball has hit Magnusson's arm as he slides in. Replays show it did but that would be so, so harsh to give. No penalty. Again. 2:42PM 40 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A tame penalty shout as Biglia goes down in the box under Ragnar Sigurdsson's challenge, the VAR has a look at it but rightly, no penalty given. 2:38PM 37 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Messi demands the ball off Rojo from two yards away, when there really looks like there's no need for a pass, but Messi knows what he's doing - even under pressure he pokes the ball around the defender on his shoulder and looks for it back quickly from Aguero. The City forward's pass is just too far ahead of Messi, though. 2:36PM 34 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Otamendi has his critics in England but his distribution is up there with the best centre-backs in the game. This time he clips a ball over Iceland left back Magnusson and so, so nearly into the path of Meza who has made a run in behind. It just doesn't come off, but that ball is on today. 2:33PM 33 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Diego Armando Maradona is in attendance at the Spartak Stadium. The man Messi is hoping to emulate in Russia Credit: AFP Lucas Biglia shoots over the from the edge of the box. Messi looks on unimpressed that the ball didn't come his way. 2:31PM 30 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Di Maria and Gudmundsson have to be separated by the referee after a bit of handbags over a ball that had gone out of play. Tasty. 2:30PM 29 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Bold early shout from our man Ben Rumsby: Am going to put my neck on the block and write off #ARG for the #WorldCup— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) June 16, 2018 2:28PM 26 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 1 A couple of Argentina corners, the second of which Otamendi heads at goal but it's an easy save for Halldorsson. 2:24PM GOOOOOOOALLL!!! Iceland are level!!! Chaos at the back for Argentina and Finnbogason pokes home! Argentina get themselves in all sorts of trouble at the back and just cannot clear their lines. Sigurdsson gets two bites of the cherry to deliver from the right and the second one, drilled in low, is parried by Caballero but only as far as Alfred Finnbogason, who makes no mistake from six yards out. Argentina 1 - 1 Iceland (Alfred Finnbogason, 23 min) 2:23PM 21 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 Messi tests Halldorsson again, curling one from just outside the area but from an unfavourable angle, and the keeper holds onto it with some ease. 2:22PM 19 mins - Argentina 1 Iceland 0 (Aguero) Argentina Rojo tries a long-distance strike but doesn't get hold of it, Aguero reacts quickest inside the box, and brings the ball under control immediately. He has his back to goal, and has white shirts around him. One touch out of his feet takes him away from his marker, and in the blink of an eye he unleashes a crackerjack of a left-footed shot into the top corner at the near post. Lovely strike. Argentina 1 - 0 Iceland (Sergio Agüero, 19 min) 2:19PM GOOOOOOOOOAALLL!!! Sergio Aguero puts Argentina in front! 2:19PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 We have our first shot on target and it is that man, Messi. Iceland haven't given him much chance so far but he is so clever at finding space. He picks the ball up outside the area, skips a challenge to create a yard of space on his left and lets fly. It stings the hands of Halldorsson but he'd have been disappointed not to keep that one out. 2:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Messi is already dropping really, really deep to get the ball. His movement creates space further forward for Otamendi to step into. He shoots optimistically from 30 yards but blazes his shot well over. Very good start to this game in Moscow. Iceland certainly aren't planning on sitting back. 2:13PM 10 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Huge chance at the other end for Iceland! Argentina are caught out trying to pass their way out of trouble and Caballero has to lunge in to intercept at the feet of Finnbogason. His clearance is poor, though, and falls to a white shirt in Bjarnason, but he can only drill wide of the target. A massive opportunity goes begging. Miss: Argentina 0 - 0 Iceland (Birkir Bjarnason, 9 min) 2:10PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Not long, is the answer. Messi swings another free-kick towards goal - this time an in-swinger. But he mis-hits and his cross is low, Tagliafico stoops and uses the pace of the ball to flick at goal but it goes wide. 2:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 How much longer will things look like this? Argentina vs Iceland shots on goal 2:05PM 4 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 Decent ball from Messi but there isn't enough pace on it. Otamendi gets up to flick towards goal but he tries such a fine glance that he misses it completely, and it bounces harmlessly wide of Halldorsson's goal. 2:04PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 After that surprising early shot for Iceland we have very swiftly settled into the pattern of the day: Argentina are having all of the ball, Iceland are deep, back in their own half, hassling energetically whenever the ball comes forward. A bit too energetically, though, with a free-kick conceded on the left-hand touchline 35 yards from goal. Messi is over it. 2:01PM 1 min - Argentina 0 Iceland 0 14 seconds in and we have our first shot of the match as Gylfi Sigurdsson drags his effort wide of the target. Positive stuff early on. 2:00PM Iceland get the match started Can Lionel Messi do it on a warm, dry afternoon in Moscow, with the world watching? Or will Iceland add Argentina to their impressive list of coups? Let's find out. 1:57PM The Spartak Stadium is rocking It's an incredible atmosphere in Moscow. The Argentina fans are full of confidence, Iceland's really do believe an upset could happen. National anthem time, and Caballero looks like Messi has said something mean to him. He has turned his back on his captain. Kick off is a couple of minutes away. 1:48PM Any Argentine weaknesses? Oh, but of course. In qualifying they won only seven out of 18 matches and just scraped through thanks to a Messi hat-trick in the high altitude surroundings of Ecuador's Quito when it really counted. We all know what Messi, Aguero and Di Maria can do, but in deeper positions they are far wearker. Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano start in central midfield for Argentina Credit: Getty images 34-year-old Javier Mascherano plays in central midfield today, while the error-prone Marcos Rojo is at centre-back alongside the much-improved but still sometimes pretty erratic Nicolas Otamendi. There are mistakes in this side. 1:33PM Everyone's an Iceland fan today, right? Even though they embarrassed England in France two years ago, we've all forgiven Iceland and are right behind them here. Yes, it would be great to see Messi give his best response to Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible hat-trick last night, but perhaps equally wonderful would be a scrappy, ugly 1-0 smash-and-grab win for the underdogs, wouldn't it? Just call me Scrooge. 1:22PM Just some of the players NOT starting for Argentina today Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso (of PSG) and Ever Banega. Plenty of firepower in reserve, then, Gonzalo Higuain only makes the bench Credit: Getty images 1:19PM The teams Argentina: Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Biglia, Mascherano, Meza, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero Iceland: Halldorsson; Magnusson, Sigurdsson, Arnason, Saevarsson; Bjarnason, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson; Finnbogason, Sigurdsson 1:13PM Chris Bascombe's interview with Gylfi Sigurdsson Ahead of today's game, check out this interview with Iceland's star man, who is fully of the belief that Iceland have no reason to fear Argentina... or anyone at the World Cup for that matter. 12:55PM Looking forward to the 2018 World Cup's first viking clap The Iceland fans were great fun in France at Euro 2016, and they'll be enjoying themselves in Russia today. Iceland fans in Moscow Credit: Getty images 12:39PM Here we, here we, here we go It's such a good day of football today - four great games and just so much to get excited about, but this one is the game of the day in my opinion, and I'm chuffed to have been given the privilege of providing live updates from the game. Iceland, who, of course, dumped Roy Hodgson's England out of Euro 2016, will play their first ever World Cup match against non other than Lionel Messi's Argentina. Iceland is the smallest nation ever (in terms of population) to qualify for the World Cup, but this wonderful team has bags of potential and given what they have achieved in the last four years they have no reason to fear anyone. Lionel Messi is chasing a first World Cup medal Credit: AFP They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball. It could be a frustrating day for Leo and co. but that is taking nothing away from Iceland, who can't really be expected to come out and attack and leave themselves open (hello, Saudi Arabia). The problem for Iceland is that once you take care of Messi, you still have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and the rest to worry about. Argentina's worry, though, is that their defence isn't up to much. They had a terrible time in qualifying, and are really shaky at the back. They have far better players than Iceland, but I don't think anyone should be expecting a completely one-sided affair.
Argentina rue Lionel Messi penalty miss as Iceland hold out for dramatic draw
As the final whistle blew, Lionel Messi angrily volleyed the ball high into the Moscow air before kneeling down in the centre-circle to be consoled by a steady succession of team-mates. They must have secretly wished that he had struck his penalty with such venom. Argentina looked and felt for all the world like losers and, while Messi’s 64th minute missed penalty provided just about the ultimate personal contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Sochi against Spain, he might at least find some consolation in his great rival’s story story at Euro 2016. Portugal had also begun with a stodgy and frustrating 1-1 dra