Lionel Messi said he was responsible for Argentina failing to beat Iceland after he could not convert a penalty in the 1-1 draw which “would have changed everything.”
Messi had a chance to restore Argentina’s lead in the 64th minute, but his penalty to Hannes Halldorsson’s right was at a good height for the goalkeeper to save without too much difficulty.
And the 31-year-old, who said this week that Argentina’s results in this tournament would decide if he he comes back to play in 2022, took the blame after Argentina settled for one point.
“It hurts me to have missed the penalty, because it was the decisive advantage,” Messi said. “I feel responsible for not having been able to take the three points. I have no doubt that a goal from the penalty kick would have changed everything.”
Argentina have games to come in Group D against Croatia and Nigeria, and Messi was confident that the result would doom their chances of advancing.
“We have not lost our hopes despite the draw, we still have the same desire,” he said. “I think we deserved the victory. We worked hard trying to find spaces in the Icelandic defense, but we couldn’t do it.
“This result doesn’t have to weigh on us looking forward. We have a few days to rest and to prepare the next match.”
Messi has struggled from the spot in recent months, missing five of his past 10 attempts for Barcelona and Argentina.
He stood on the pitch on his own after the final whistle for a long while, but striker Sergio Aguero said Messi’s penalty struggles only “show he’s human” and backed him to recover before they face Croatia on Thursday.
Despite taking 11 shots, his World Cup-career high, Messi has also now failed to score in his last five games on the world’s biggest stage, after finding the net in each of the group stage games in 2014. He is only the fourth player since 1966 to take 11 or more shots in a World Cup game and not score.
“We didn’t plan to start with a draw in the first game, but no team will make it easy for you to win,” Messi said. “This World Cup is going to be very even, all the matches are very close.”