Europe

Iceland smite Messi hopes - in pictures

Billed as minnows facing annihilation against the messiah, Iceland - the smallest nation ever to play in a World Cup - defied all expectations to snuff out Argentina and its biggest star.

Here's the story of that encounter in pictures.

Iceland fans thunder clap in Moscow Image copyright Reuters

Ahead of kick off, Iceland fans gave their famous synchronised "thunder clap".

The country only has a population of 335,000 - many of them appeared to be in Moscow.

Argentine fan with Messi picture Image copyright AFP/Getty

Argentine fans invoked their own deity - Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. Would he be able to match his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo's feats from the day before?

Who would prevail?

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Aguero celebrates Image copyright EPA

Argentina struck first through Sergio Aguero and a massacre seemed on the cards.

Iceland score Image copyright Reuters
Finnbogason celebrates Image copyright Reuters

But Iceland hit back thanks to Alfred Finnbogason, sparking wild celebrations.

All eyes were now on Messi - could he breach the Icelandic defensive wall?

Messi misses penalty Image copyright Reuters
Messi misses penalty Image copyright Reuters

But where Ronaldo had scored, Messi missed. His easiest chance was a penalty, but he struck it weakly and at a convenient height for goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.

He also missed a late free kick, unlike the Portuguese, and where Ronaldo's speculative shot for his middle goal had squirmed under Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, Messi's efforts flew wide of the Icelandic goal.

Messi Image copyright Reuters
Messi after the match Image copyright Reuters

It was not his finest day.

Maradona reacts Image copyright Reuters

For the national team at least, Messi remains in the shadow of the watching Argentine football hero Diego Maradona, who could not hide his disappointment.

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This time, as many on social media pointed out, Maradona's infamous "hand of God" was holding a cigar in defiance of Fifa's no smoking rules.

Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson Image copyright EPA

Instead, the day belonged to the "hand of cod" - as Icelandic goalkeeper Halldorsson was dubbed by one commentator.

His contribution was immortalised by Icelandic online magazine Reykjavik Grapevine.

Jubilation in Reykjavik after the match ended Image copyright AFP/Getty

At the final whistle, there was jubilation in a rainy Reykjavik.

Argentine fan Image copyright Reuters

Watching Argentines meanwhile were underwhelmed. Their messiah's coming had, once again, been postponed.

"Unforgettable," tweeted the Icelandic goalkeeper after the match.

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All pictures copyright

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