Saturday 16 June 2018, 18:59

Penalty pain and a dream debut

  • European teams remain unbeaten at Russia 2018

  • Penalties aplenty, with Messi and Cueva left to rue misses

  • FRA 2-1 AUS | ARG 1-1 ISL | PER 0-1 DEN | CRO 2-0 NGA

DAY REPLAYED - Penalty misses dominated the story of Day 3 at Russia 2018.

The fact there were two of them - twice the number seen in open play across the entirety of Brazil 2014 - was remarkable enough. But they also had a telling impact on two hugely significant results, with Hannes Thor Halldorsson's save from Lionel Messi and Christian Cueva's wayward effort proving costly for Argentina and Peru respectively.

Iceland and Denmark were the teams to profit, with the former - the smallest nation ever to compete at this tournament - earning a draw against the two-time champions on their FIFA World Cup™ debut.

Own goals were also influential, with unfortunate deflections off Aziz Behich and Oghenekaro Etebo resulting in demoralising defeats for Australia and Nigeria. France and Croatia were the beneficiaries in these cases, earning narrow wins that took them to the summits of Group C and D respectively. Behich and Etebo's ill luck also helped maintain European teams' unbeaten start to this World Cup.

Did you know? There were records set at both ends of the age spectrum in Russia today. France's Kylian Mbappe and Daniel Arzani of Australia, both 19, started the trend when they took to the field in Kazan, becoming the youngest players to represent their countries in the process. Then Argentina-Iceland was confirmed as the 'oldest match' in the tournament's history, with the two starting XIs combining for an unprecedented average age of 30 years and 213 days. Albiceleste veteran Javier Mascherano certainly played his part in setting that record, and the 34-year-old claimed one for himself while he was at it, becoming his country's most-capped player with appearance number 144.

Tomorrow's matches 17 June

Costa Rica-Serbia - Group E, Samara Germany-Mexico - Group F, Moscow (Luzhniki) Brazil-Switzerland - Group E, Rostov-on-Don

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