AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 3: Argentina Stymied, France Slip Past Socceroos

AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 3: Argentina Stymied, France Slip Past Socceroos
 

France, Denmark, and Croatia recorded victories, while Argentina were held versus Iceland in an eventful Day 3 of the 2018 World Cup. Penalties, those made and those missed, were a big story of the day.

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GAMES RECAP

France v Australia 2-1

France were nowhere near their best, but they managed to just eke out a 2-1 win against Australia to open Group C proceedings. A VAR decision led to a penalty-kick call for Didier Deschamps’ men in the 58th minute with Antoine Griezmann converting the spot-kick. 

Four minutes later though it was Australia who were back on level terms, also from the penalty spot. Mile Jedinak was the man who scored after Samuel Umtiti bizarrely handled in the box when under no pressure. Australia looked like they might push on for a few minutes, but in the 81st minute Paul Pogba’s deflected effort hit the crossbar and just passed the line. France held on to take the points while Australia were left to wonder what might have been. 

Match Rating - 6: A decent match, more scrappy though rather than loaded with quality.

Argentina v Iceland 1-1

Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick as Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw against Iceland. Messi played well on the afternoon but all too often seemed isolated with very little help from his teammates. Sergio Aguero’s goal gave Argentina the lead in the 19th minute, but Iceland responded just four minutes later when Alfred Finnbogason was on hand to finish from close range. Iceland were content to defend en masse and Argentina had trouble breaking down the numbers, though some good chances came. 

The best of these fell to Messi, but in the 64th minute, his penalty was well saved by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson. Argentina huffed and puffed down the stretch, but Iceland made history by securing their first ever point at a World Cup.

Match Rating - 5.5: Iceland’s tactics were extremely effective and even necessary many would say, but not necessarily aesthetically pleasing. Argentina meanwhile looked bereft of ideas in the final third with only Messi consistently looking like a threat. 

Peru v Denmark 0-1

Denmark recorded an absolutely vital 1-0 victory over Peru in Saransk. In an entertaining back-and-forth encounter, Peru just fell short thanks to a cool finish to the near post by Yussuf Poulsen just before the hour. Poulsen had been played in by a lovely defense-splitting pass from Christian Eriksen. 

Peru had opportunities and the match might have produced a different outcome had a first-half penalty miss been made instead. Christian Cueva skied his spot-kick over the goal on the stroke of halftime. 

Match Rating - 8: A fun one to watch as both sides attempted to get forward. Denmark and Peru played some good football, with the match decided by one fantastic assist and finish. 

Croatia v Nigeria 2-0

Croatia cruised to a 2-0 win over listless Nigeria in the final match of the day. It was a day to forget for the Super Eagles as they conjured up very little in attack. Croatia were by no means creative sensations, but they looked much more cohesive than their counterparts. An Oghenekaro Etebo own goal gave Croatia the lead after 32 minutes and a Luka Modric penalty 20 minutes from the end sealed the points for Zlatko Dalic’s side. 

Match Rating - 5.5: This tournament has already thrown up some good matches, unfortunately, this one wasn’t one of them. Croatia were not outstanding, but good enough against a disappointing Nigeria side. 

GREEK CONNECTION

The first “Greek” goal of the tournament came on Day 3 thanks to Alfred Finnbogason. The Icelandic striker will be remembered by Olympiacos and Greek football fans in general for scoring the winning goal against Arsenal in the 2015/16 Champions’ League Group Stage. 

On Saturday, he became a hero for his nation by scoring their first-ever goal at the World Cup. 

GOAL OF THE DAY

Denmark’s solitary strike against Peru has to take the cake. Eriksen’s pass was splendid and Poulsen’s finish was perfectly placed. 

TALKING POINTS

VAR decided PK in France-Australia
Umtiti silly handball
Pogba with fortunate strike
Messi misses penalty
Iceland claim first-ever point
Peru rue missed PK
Denmark impress with the points, Peru same without
Croatia looking cool and calm
Nigeria start poorly

LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW

As the World Cup begins to hit stride, three matches are on tap for Day 4 with some of the big boys ready to take the pitch.

The early match pits Costa Rica against Serbia. Also, in Group E is the showdown between perennial contenders and 5-time World Cup champions Brazil and Switzerland in the last match of the day. In between, defending FIFA World Cup champions Germany up open their campaign in Moscow against Mexico. 

 
by George Tsitsonis
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