After Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning display for Portugal against Spain in Sochi less than 24 hours earlier, all eyes were on rival Messi in the Russian capital.
With football legend, Diego Maradona watching on from the stands, Lionel Messi was denied from the spot by Hannes Thor Halldorsson in the second half of an eventful Group D opener against debutants, Iceland at the Otkrytie Arena in Moscow.
Sergio Aguero had fired the beaten finalists from four years ago ahead in the 19th minute, finally breaking his World Cup duck at the ninth attempt with a rising left-footed drive.
Yet debutants Iceland refused to melt on the main stage, Alfred Finnbogason capitalising on Willy Caballero’s weak punch to score his country’s maiden goal in the history of the tournament just four minutes later.
Hannes Thor Halldorsson was the hero for Iceland as the goalkeeper’s penalty save from Lionel Messi secured his side a sensational 1-1 draw against Argentina.
Argentina will hope to inject some impetus into their campaign when they face Croatia in Nizhny on Thursday, while Iceland go up against Nigeria in Volgograd the following day.