June 16, 2018 | Posted in: Sports

Day three of the 2018 World Cup saw action in Group C and Group D and featured an emotional day of firsts. Iceland, the 2016 European Championship darling, made their first ever appearance in a World Cup, scored their first ever goal, and tied Argentina 1-1. In the early game, the new Virtual Replay Assistant factored in both goals for France as they defeated Australia 2-1. Peru, making their first appearance in the tournament in 36 years, lost to Denmark 1-0 and missed on several key chances. In the final game of the day, Croatia defeated Nigeria 2-0. Upon the completion of Day 3, France and Denmark lead Group C with three points each while Croatia grabs the lead in the Group of the Death with three points with Iceland and Argentina each earning a single point.

Iceland could be darlings of the 2018 World Cup

Fresh off their quarter-final 2016 Euro appearance, where they famously defeated England 2-1, Iceland was delighted to gain a tantalizing point in Group D in a game where Lionel Messi missed several key chances, including a penalty shot saved beautifully by Icelandic keeper Hannes Halldórsson in the 64th minute. Sergio Agüero opened the scoring in the 19th minute for Argentina with Iceland quickly equalizing in the 23rd minute on Alfred Finnbogason’s goal. Argentina would dominate possession, 78 percent to 22 percent, with 27 shots on goal to Iceland’s 8, yet was only able to draw a single point in the standings. Messi’s miss on the penalty kick cost his team two points in the standings and crucial goal differential and demonstrates Iceland can play with the best in the world.  Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick the day before, including a made penalty kick, gives him the early advantage in who’s the best debates.

Peru makes for emotional day in Group C

Peru, appearing in the World Cup for the first time since 1982, finished fifth in South America qualifying and won an inter-continental playoff against New Zealand on a 2-0 aggregate to secure the 32nd and last spot in the 2018 World Cup tournament. Peru was aggressive with key chances, including a penalty shot in the 45th minute of the first half, the second penalty of the day awarded after video review. “He stood ready to become a Soccer God in Peru”, according the announcer of the game, yet Cuevas’ shot sailed poorly, and harmlessly, over the net.  Denmark would spoil Peru’s return to the world stage 1-0 on Yussuf Poulsen’s goal in the 60th minute and join France atop the leader board in Group C.

Croatia aided by own goal against Nigeria

The final game of the day, from Group D, saw Croatia defeat Nigeria 2-0.  Nigeria was the first team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup while Croatia, with their La Liga midfield consisting of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitc, and Mateo Kovack, help make Group D difficult to navigate.  Croatia took a 1-0 first half lead when Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic’s header toward the goal bounced ever so slightly off Nigerian defender Oghenekaro Enebo’s leg and into the net for an own goal. It was the second own goal of the tournament in three days, after Iran defeated Morocco 1-0 yesterday on Aziz Bouhaddouz’s own goal. Croatia would add another goal on Luka Modric’s penalty kick, awarded in conjunction with a yellow card, in the 71st minute. Croatia grabs the early lead in Group D with three points and plus-two goal differential and are aided greatly by group favorite Argentina drawing only a point from Iceland. Group C and Group D continue action in Russia on June 21, 2018, at 8 AM EST.

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