WORLD CUP DAY 3

World Cup recap: Messi missed penalty highlights talk on day 3

All eyes were on Lionel Messi on Saturday at the FIFA World Cup. Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

Penalty kicks played a part in all four matches on Saturday as action got under way in Group C and D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. France and Argentina were two of the favorites to follow while the end of a 36-year drought for Peru and debut of Iceland were also intriguing storylines.

France 2-1 Australia

Kazan Arena, Kazan

Attendance: 41,279

This match had people’s attention because of a talented French team that included Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. France entered this World Cup with pressure because of the expectations of this team, and that pressure showed in the first half. Les Blues did not start sharp - similar to Uruguay on day two vs. Egypt - and Australia was the more dangerous team early on. Chippy play dominated much of the first half which ended in a scoreless draw.

In the second half, the Video Assistant Referee played a part for the first time ever in a FIFA World Cup. A tackle on Antoine Griezmann was reviewed and a penalty attempt was given to the French. Griezmann converted to put his country in the lead, 1-0,  in the 58th minute. Just five minutes later, a handball was called on France’s Samuel Umtiti and Australia captain Mile Jedinak converted from the penalty spot to level the score. Australia was looking to take the draw before a lobbed ball by Pogba hit the woodwork and ricocheted into goal in the 81st minute. Goal-line technology was consulted to confirm the score and over 10 minutes later, France left Kazan with the three points in hand.

Analysis: Friday’s action was a bit marred by criticism of not using the Video Assistant Referee - which may have been the case of why referee’s were less hesitant to do so on Saturday. Both of France’s goals were helped by it.

Notable stat: Saturday’s goal is Antoine Griezmann’s first goal at a FIFA World Cup.

Argentina 1-1 Iceland

Spartak Stadium, Moscow

Attendance: 44,190

The match with the most eyeballs today was going to be on this match to see how the five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi would follow up Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick performance. Fans who tuned in to Euro 2016 would also be tuning in to see how the cinderella Iceland would fare in its World Cup debut. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero opened the scoring in the 19th minute - his first World Cup goal - to put La Albiceleste up. Iceland, who had wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead early in the match, would not back down as Alfred Finnbogason would tie things up in the 23rd minute.

The second half left the biggest talking point as Iceland conceded a penalty in the 63rd minute. Of course, it was Messi who would be designated to take the spot kick. The FC Barcelona man hit it too close within the goalkeeper’s reach, and with not enough power, allowing goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson to become the hero and make the save. Argentina would generate several opportunities but would be unable to convert as an unrelenting Iceland team would make them work for every inch, with Messi double-teamed in many cases.

Analysis: This was a historic result for Iceland and a bad day at the office for Argentina. It is yet to be seen if Iceland will be able to advance, with Croatia and Nigeria also in the group, but this was a huge first step. Argentina’s achilles heel is its defense and it showed today. The point serves the South Americans as a warning but expect them to address it - maybe even make a goalkeeping change - as they move forward in the tournament. It’s not panic mode for Argentina as many teams have come back in these type of tournaments after stumbling in the first match, but other players need to step up and not be Messi-dependent.

Notable stat: Iceland is the smallest country to compete in a FIFA World Cup. The goalkeeper who stopped Messi’s penalty is also a filmmaker who directed a Coca-Cola commercial airing in his country during the tournament.

Peru 0-1 Denmark

Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Attendance: 40,502

Emotions were high as Peruvians were able to sing their national anthem at a World Cup for the first time in 36 years - many for the first time in their lives. The emotion of being on the world’s biggest stage showed for Peru, who’s best shot early came from a curving ground ball by Andre Carillo that was saved by the Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The VAR would be consulted in the 44th minute and Peru were awarded a penalty. Unfortunately for Peru, the pressure was too much and Christian Cueva put to much power behind the kick to kick it high into the stands.

Denmark would take control of the match with a play through the left flank that RB Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen converted for the match-winning goal. Peru’s talisman Paolo Guerrero was brought on in the 62nd minute and provided a spark in attack, including a backheel that went just wide in in the 79th minute. The Danish team would hold to the score with their compact defensive efforts to pick up the three points.

Analysis: This is a tough pill to swallow for Peru as they probably feel like they were the better side on the day. They’ll need help from France and Australia to knock off the Dane’s to have an opportunity to jump them for a top two spot in the group. Expect Guerrero to get the start for Peru in the next two encounters. For Denmark, this was a great win in a though group and a win over Australia could virtually clinch a spot into the next round. Schmeichel was a key to their success on Saturday so the attack can feel confident in having a good defense to back them up.

Notable stat: The Denmark win marks a sixth straight result for European teams so far.

Croatia 2-0 Nigeria

Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Attendance: 31,136

Croatian vs. Nigeria was a match that looked to be the decider in who would go through besides Argentina in Group D. Neither side took real control from the start and it was and up and down game. Boasting midfield maestros like Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić and FC Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić, Croatia was expected to take control of the match. Ivan Perisić had a good opportunity from outside the box in the 14th minute but, other than that, the Croatians found it hard to penetrate through the Nigerian defense. Croatia would take the lead in the 32nd minute thanks to a corner kick that ended rebonding off the foot of Nigerian defender Oghenekaro Etebo for the own goal.

The second half continued with much of the up and down action of the first half and neither team able to put a stranglehold on the result. A foul inside the box during a corner led a penalty for Croatia which Modrić converted in the 71st minute. Nigeria’s young squad - the youngest in this edition of the World Cup - would not be able to come back on the scoreboard.

Analysis: Both teams had question marks after coaching changes during qualification. In Croatia’s case, they rescue the result with an important three points and breathe a sigh of relief. The pressure moves on Nigeria, however, who will need a result in their next match because of the split points between Argentina and Iceland earlier in the day. The Super Eagles may be staring at an early exit if they cannot find a reliable forward up top.

Notable stat: It took 59 minutes for a shot on target to materialize in Croatia vs. Nigeria, the longest drought in a World Cup match.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Sunday, June 17

7 a.m. - [Group E] Costa Rica vs. Serbia (FOX, Telemundo)

10 a.m. - [Group F] Germany vs. Mexico (FS1, Telemundo)

1 p.m. - [Group E] Brazil vs. Switzerland (FS1, Telemundo)

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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