Heimir Hallgrimsson talked up his side’s defensive showing against South American giants Argentina on Saturday, following their remarkable display.
The two nations squared off for their opening World Cup fixture at the Spartak Stadium and were unable to be separated in the end, with the Strakarnir Okkar fighting back to earn an impressive draw.
Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for the Argentinian’s with a powerful shot midway through the first half, but Alfred Finnbogason tied things up less than five minutes later, capitalising on Willy Caballero’s parrying of a cross to sweep the ball into the back of the net.
Hallgrimsson’s men would later concede a penalty, which Lionel Messi stepped up to take. Hannes Halldorsson, though, would foil the superstar’s spot-kick with a smart save.
“We played our defence brilliantly, we knew that they would have 60% or 70% possession and it is difficult to defend against that. But all credit for their hard work,” Hallgrimsson said to BBC Sport after the full-time whistle. “There was nothing in their game that surprised us.
“We are bluntly honest about our ability, we know how we can win football matches. It is just a fact that Argentina have superior individuals with superior skills and if we go one-on-one with them you don’t need to ask who will win the game. We have to play in a special way and we have a clear identity.”
Halldorsson, who picked up the man of the match award for his heroics, admitted he’d done his homework ahead of the match but was immensely proud to save a penalty taken by “the best player in the world”.
“For me as a goalkeeper to play for Iceland and face the best player in the world at a penalty is a big moment and a dream come true to save it, especially as it helped us get a big point which I hope is going to prove important to us,” he said. “It is our goal to qualify.
“I did some homework. This was a situation which I knew could come up. I looked at a lot of penalties from Messi and had a good feeling that he would go this way today.”