Hannes Halldorsson used to make zombie films for a living but it was watching videos that let Iceland’s goalkeeper outwit Lionel Messi and save a penalty on Saturday that gave his side a shock World Cup point.
I did my homework,” the 34-year-old who plays in the Danish league told reporters after stopping a 64th-minute spot kick that pegged Argentina to a 1-1 draw and added to a miserable run of four misses from seven this past season for Messi.
“I looked at a lot of penalties by Messi and I also looked at how I had been behaving in the last penalties. So I tried to get into their mindset, how they would be thinking about me.”
“I had a good feeling it would go this way today,” he said of his dive to his right to stop Messi’s uninspired effort.
With the five-times world player of the year stepping up to restore Argentina’s lead in the Group D opener, tiny Iceland’s first ever appearance at the World Cup finals, Halldorsson admitted that he felt the pressure.
It was a big moment for the goalkeeper and he reflected on what the penalty save meant to him. He did indeed feel the pressure
“For me, as a goalkeeper from little Iceland and at the first game at a World Cup, to face the best player in the world at a penalty is,” — he gave a long pause — “a big moment.”
“It’s a dream come true to save a penalty, especially if it helps us get a big point,” he added, as Iceland now aim to reach the next round from a group also featuring Croatia and Nigeria.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli refused to blame Messi, who failed to find the net with 11 shots. His penalty added to a run that started with a miss for Barcelona in La Liga last August.
When he was asked why Iceland celebrated a draw like they had won the game, Halldorson had an apt reply. “Are you Cristiano Ronaldo’s uncle?” he asked the reporter — Ronaldo dismissed Iceland as “small minded” when they cheered a 1-1 draw with Portugal in their first match at Euro 2016.