Maradona says Messi should not be blamed for result against Iceland

Maradona says Messi should not be blamed for result against Iceland

- Diego Maradona says Lionel Messi is not to blame for 1-1 draw with Iceland

- The Argentine legend stated that he missed five penalties in his career

- The Seleccion will be hoping to bounce back against group leaders, Croatia

Argentina legend Diego Maradona insists he does not blame Lionel Messi the Seleccion's surprise World Cup draw with Iceland.

The Barcelona star man missed a second-half penalty as the two-time World Cup champions failed to defeat tournament debutant, Iceland.

The Argentine captain saw his spot kick saved by brilliant Hannes Por Halldorsson after Alfred Finnbogason had cancelled out Sergio Aguero's 19th minute opener.

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Maradona told Venezuelan television channel Telesur: "I don't blame the players.

"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 will hoping to bounce back when they take on Croatia on Thursday before their final group game against Nigeria.

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Boss Jorge Sampaoli said: "To evaluate and characterise Lionel Messi's work is difficult because it was an uncomfortable match for him.

“Iceland played very defensively, blocking all spaces but we did everything we could to win. Leo is very committed to Argentina."

And Manchester City striker Aguero said the team will be rallying around Messi after his penalty nightmare against Iceland.

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The Manchester City star said: “Leo showed he’s human. We support him. He just had a bad day, but we know that he can give us the victory at any moment of the game.

“I hope he can be better for next match against Croatia. The first match is always the most difficult. Everyone wants to play against us.

“They were defending; their only chances to score were from a set piece or looking for the second play. I think they celebrated the draw as a victory.”

Meanwhile, had earlier reported that the Super Eagles of Nigeria were defeated 2-0 Croatia in the other Group D match

Ogehenekaro Etebo steered in an own goal and Luka Modric's second half penalty sealed victory.

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