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'I missed five penalties and was still Maradona' - Diego comes to Messi's defence after spot-kick fiasco

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona has leapt to Lionel Messi's defence after seeing the star err from the penalty spot against Iceland. 

With Saturday's World Cup Group D opener poised at 1-1, Messi had the chance to restore Argentina's advantage when Maxi Meza was shoved in the area. 

Iceland's goalkeeper and part-time film director Hannes Halldorsson, however, had other ideas, keeping out the penalty with a strong save to ensure a share of the points

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But Maradona pointed out that even the best players can make mistakes from 12 yards out - including himself. 

"I missed five penalties in a row and I was still Diego Armando Maradona," the 1986 World Cup winner explained to Telesur

"The game and the two points lost by the team are not down to his penalty.

"He showed his face and gave everything he had to give. The 'kid' did his duty.

"Seeing him on the field, he was pretty pissed off. Just like I would have been. It was all him, he always had to shrug two players off and when he did, there was no pass open." 

Maradona has focused criticism on coach Jorge Sampaoli, whom he believes should not return to Argentina if the team continues to struggle

But the colourful former Albiceleste boss nevertheless believes that his nation can turn things around - with a bit of help from up above. 

"Whether you win, lose or draw, it is always 11 players on the pitch. But you have to see how you win, lose and draw," he added. 

"We are closer to losing the coming games. We are in big trouble, but we still believe in God and that we can improve. I hope the lads get better."