World Cup 2018: Lionel Messi is not to blame for draw with Iceland, says Argentina legend Diego Maradona

The football legend's comments come after he branded the Argentine side a 'disgrace' 

Jessica Morgan
Monday 18 June 2018 12:52 BST
Argentina World Cup profile

Diego Maradona has jumped to Lionel Messi's defence his failed penalty cost Argentina a win over Iceland at the World Cup on Saturday.

The star had high hopes for his World Cup opening game but his dreams were thwarted after Iceland's Hannes Halldorsson denied his 63rd-minute spot kick in Moscow.

The Argentines hoped to secure a victory over the World Cup debutantes, but Sergio Aguero's superb strike was cancelled out by Alfred Finnbogason's equaliser.

Former Argentina head coach Maradona has now said he will not point the finger of blame at the squad.

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

His comments have taken an extraordinary turn following his scathing attack on the Argentine side after the match, calling them a 'disgrace'.

The 57-year-old also issued a warning to manager Jorge Sampaoli, stating he would not be welcome back home unless he changed his tactics.

"Playing like that, he can't come back to Argentina," he told Venezuelan TV. "It's a disgrace. Not having prepared for the match knowing that Iceland are all 1.90

Argentina's missed opportunity to top Group D with a win caused Messi to feel 'hurt'.

Breaking his silence after the match, he said: “It would have changed the script. It was the advantage.

“Obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty. They would have opened a little more and we could have found more spaces.

Messi missed the chance to give Argentina victory against Iceland (Getty)

“We have the bitterness of not being able to take the three points that we deserved. To start with winning is always important, now we have to think about Croatia. We will try to pass this quickly.”

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

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