Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi not to blame for Argentina's faltering start to the World Cup

The 1986 World Cup winner has sympathy for the Barcelona man following his penalty miss in 1-1 draw with Iceland

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group D - Argentina vs Iceland - Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 16, 2018   Former Argentina player Diego Maradona watches from the stand   REUTERS/Carl Recine

Diego Maradona says Lionel Messi's second-half penalty miss was not the reason Argentina failed to defeat Iceland at the World Cup on Saturday.

Messi saw his spot kick saved by goalkeeper Hannes Por Halldorsson after Alfred Finnbogason had cancelled out Sergio Aguero's 19th minute opener as their opening game in Group D finished 1-1.

"I don't blame the players," Maradona, who managed Fujairah last season, told Venezuelan television channel Telesur.

epaselect epa06813012 Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group D preliminary round soccer match between Argentina and Iceland in Moscow, Russia, 16 June 2018.

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"I could blame the lack of work rate. But I can't blame the players, much less Messi, who gave it all he had.

"I missed five penalties on the spin and I was still Diego Armando Maradona. I don't think that they dropped two points because Messi missed a penalty."

Argentina take on Croatia on Thursday before their final group game against Nigeria next week.


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