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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

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

Diego Maradona watched Argentina fail to beat Iceland on Saturday, but had sympathy for his compatriots. Carl Recine / Reuters
Diego Maradona watched Argentina fail to beat Iceland on Saturday, but had sympathy for his compatriots. Carl Recine / Reuters

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.

It was a frustrating start to the World Cup for Lionel Messi and Argentina. Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA
It was a frustrating start to the World Cup for Lionel Messi and Argentina. Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA

"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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Read more

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Messi and Argentina endure bumpy start to World Cup campaign

Messi misses penalty as Iceland earn draw with Argentina in World Cup opener

Gudmundsson and Iceland ready for World Cup debut and challenge of stopping Messi

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