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Argentina did nothing that surprised us - Hallgrimsson

Omnisport
NEWS
News
537   //    16 Jun 2018, 23:59 IST
finnbogason-cropped
Alfred Finnbogason celebrates his goal against Argentina

Heimir Hallgrimsson hailed Saturday's 1-1 draw with Argentina as a "big milestone" for his Iceland team and hinted the approach from the 2014 runners-up had been predictable.

Alfred Finnbogason's scrambled equaliser, four minutes after Sergio Aguero had netted for Jorge Sampaoli's side, earned Iceland a point at Spartak Stadium.

Argentina dominated for long periods, and Lionel Messi missed a second-half penalty, as Hallgrimsson's men held on.

"It's a big milestone for this team, the first time we have played at the World Cup. Playing against Argentina is not the easiest game first up and to have a point in the bag is better than not," he said.

While Hallgrimsson got his approach spot on, the same cannot be said for his Argentina counterpart Jorge Sampaoli, whose pre-match assertion that everything would be centred around Lionel Messi seemed to upset the balance of his side.

The South American giants certainly did not conjure up anything that surprised Iceland.

Hallgrimsson added: "We knew how the game would be played, they would have possession 60-70 per cent of the time and we played our defence brilliantly, the boys should take all the credit against world-class players.

"It's difficult to defend for 90 minutes, so all the credit to them and to my coaching staff. There was nothing in Argentina's game that surprised us, and we could stop a lot of their threats before they happened."

Iceland's approach is not always easy on the eye, centred around set-pieces and rugged defending, but part-time dentist Hallgrimsson insisted his players enjoyed his approach and the results it has given them.

"Yes, they do, well some of them anyway," he said.

"We are honest in our ability, we know how we can win football matches against a team like Argentina. They have superior individuals, play in better teams, better leagues. If we go one-on-one around the pitch, you don’t need to ask who will win that game.

"If we want to get points, we have to play in a certain way and everyone is on board with that. So, I think for everyone it's more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than to play another way and achieve nothing."

Despite Argentina failing to convince in Moscow, Hallgrimsson still believes they have the talent to go deep in this World Cup.

"They have world class players and they have been very successful at World Cups before, been in the final and won titles, they are part of the history of the World Cup and I believe firmly they will challenge this year, I think they will go far," he said.

"That's why this is a great success, to get a point is great.

"We were a bit lucky, they had some good opportunities but so did we, the game could have gone either way."

Hallgrimsson reserved special praise for captain Aron Gunnarsson, who, despite being short of full fitness after recovering from a knee injury, turned in a typically robust display in central midfield.

"I said prior to the game that he's the leader in this team on the pitch and off it," he said.

"Even if he wasn't 100 per cent fit we would have thought about playing him, especially on a stage like this.

"He's not injured after the game, so he'll be better against Nigeria. He was brilliant but I can't pick one out."

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