WC Wrap: Even superstars have the occasional off day
LIONEL Messi fluffed his World Cup lines, missing a penalty as Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw after France benefited from the first use of the Video Assistant Referee system in tournament history to grind out a victory over Australia.
Just a day after his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo scored a sensational hat-trick to secure a 3-3 draw for Portugal against Spain, Messi had a golden chance to write his own headlines.
But Hannes Halldorsson guessed correctly and palmed away the Argentine skipper's side-footed effort and, despite intense pressure, Iceland held on for a famous draw in their debut at a World Cup finals.
France and Denmark picked up vital wins in Group C while Croatia looked good in beating Nigeria in Group D.
France 2 Australia 1
Argentina 1 Iceland 1
Denmark 1 Peru 0
Croatia 2 Nigeria 0
Nine goals in four games - but three of those came from the spot - including one from the Socceroos - and one was an own goal.
Perhaps we should give the credit today to Iceland - who held mighty Argentina to a 1-1 draw.
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Socceroos anger will burn for a long time after finishing on the wrong end of the first big VAR decision in World Cup history.
Referee Andres Cunha waved play on after a duel between Josh Risdon and Antoine Griezmann before he was alerted a VAR alert prompted him to award a penalty.
Risdon clipped Griezmann but was adamant he made contact with the ball first, with TV replays supporting his argument, casting doubt over the VAR which officials claimed was only there to overturn "clangers".
BATTLE OF THE BIG GUNS ...
Cristiano Ronaldo has emphatically won the first round of his World Cup duel with eternal rival Lionel Messi, revelling in the adulation after his dramatic hat-trick while the Argentine flopped against Iceland.
Messi knew he had to find something special to match the Portuguese on Saturday but ended up squandering a golden chance to write his own headlines as he failed to convert from the penalty spot.
Then, with just seconds remaining in Moscow, the Barcelona man stood over a direct free-kick, mirroring the opportunity Ronaldo had the previous evening against Spain.
Ronaldo puffed out his cheeks, hitched up his shorts and arrowed his set-piece into the net to seal his 51st career hat-trick and pull Portugal level at 3-3.
In contrast, Messi, with the score at 1-1, drove his free-kick straight into the wall, booting the ball into the air in frustration as the final whistle sounded seconds later.
Ronaldo, who also scored from the penalty spot on Friday, has now joined an elite group of players to have found the net at four consecutive World Cups.
The 30-year-old Messi often edges Ronaldo in the debate about who is the best player in the world, with both men vying for supremacy on the same stage in Spain's La Liga.
"I did some homework because I knew this was a situation that could come up. It was a long shot but it happened." -Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson on his penalty save from Lionel Messi
"Messi misses a penalty and somehow, somewhere, I think Ronaldo may be winking." - Former England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter
"When the referee went to see the video, for me it was because there was a penalty. I was already thinking about how I would take it." - Antoine Griezmann after he was awarded a historic, but controversial, penalty by VAR
"I hoped that maybe one time there would be a very honest referee, and in that moment, that he wouldn't go to the video screen." - Australia coach Bert van Marwijk wasn't so impressed by the decision
"Yesterday we saw a true World Cup match, the essence of the World Cup. It was a great match, a lot of fun to watch. It was two great teams and a lot a drama. It was fantastic to watch. That was the World Cup at its purest." - Germany coach Joachim Loew chimes in on Friday's thrilling 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal.
DAY FOUR GAMES:
Costa Rica v Serbia, 10pm (EST), Samara
Germany v Mexico, 1am (EST), Moscow
Brazil v Switzerland, 4am (EST), Rostov