MATCH CENTRE

THU 21 JUNE 2018, 20:00, NIZHNY NOVGOROD ARENA

0
VS
3

Croatia leave Argentina in deep trouble

by Graeme Jackson

Thu June 21, 21:57

Croatia crushed Argentina 3-0 in a Group D clash at the 2018 World Cup in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday night, advancing into the last 16 and leaving the South American heavyweights in deep trouble.

‘The Blazers’ are top of the pool with six points and safely into the next round, while ‘La Albiceleste’ have just one point to their name and are clinging to life in a tournament they entered as one of the favourites to win.

Croatia almost claimed the lead in the fourth minute, with winger Ivan Perisic getting away a shot from the left of the penalty area which needed an excellent save from Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Argentina gradually worked their way into the game and began to create the chances, though their best scoring opportunity arrived on the half hour mark thanks to some calamitous defending from the European side and saw Enzo Perez effectively miss an open goal.

On 33 minutes ‘The Blazers’ were guilty of spurning a great chance of their own, as an inswinging cross from the right flank picked out Mario Mandzukic’s late run at the back post, but the striker put his diving header wide of the mark with only Caballero to beat.

The first half produced no goals, but eight minutes after the break Croatia claimed the lead through a brilliant strike from Ante Rebic. The attacker benefited from a poor attempted clearance by Caballero, but his first-time volley into the back of the net was arguably the most superb finish of the tournament thus far.

Argentina so nearly claimed an equaliser just over 10 minutes later, but Danijel Subasic made a great save to keep out Perez’s low shot, and the rebound saw Ivan Rakitic make a crucial block to prevent Lionel Messi sweeping home the loose ball.

‘La Albiceleste’ manager Jorge Sampaoli threw on Cristian Pavon, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala in an attempt to spark his team back into life, but on 80 minutes Croatia landed the knockout blow when Luka Modric worked space for a shot from long range and beat the left hand of the ‘keeper to make it 2-0.

Ivan Rakitic, who hit the crossbar from a free kick in the 86th minute, wrapped up the scoring in the first minute of injury time, tapping home from close range after the Argentina defence had gone AWOL.

Argentina 0

Croatia (0) 3 (Rebic 53’, Modric 80’, Rakitic 90+1’)

Argentina: Caballero, Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Salvio (Pavon 56’), Mascherano, Perez (Dybala 68’), Acuna, Messi, Aguero (Higuain 55’), Meza

Croatia: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Brozovic, Rebic (Kramaric 57’), Modric, Perisic (Kovacic 82’), Mandzukic (Corluka 90+3’)

MATCH STATISTICS
MATCH VENUE REFEREE
GROUP STAGE NIZHNY NOVGOROD ARENA
ARGENTINA GOALS CROATIA GOALS
18. Ante Rebic (53')
10. Luka Modric (80')
7. Ivan Rakitic (90 + 1')
CAUTIONS DISMISSALS CAUTIONS DISMISSALS
3 4
ARGENTINA STARTING LINEUP CROATIA STARTING LINEUP
23
Goalkeeper
23
Defender
56'
18
Defender
6
Defender
51'
2
Defender
21
Defender
87'
8
Defender
3
Defender
85'
17
Defender
67'
2
3
Midfielder
82'
4
Midfielder
68'
15
Midfielder
90 + 1'
7
Midfielder
14
Midfielder
80'
10
Midfielder
13
Midfielder
90 + 4'
11
Forward/Striker
10
Forward/Striker
40'
53'
57'
18
Forward/Striker
55'
19
Forward/Striker
58'
90 + 3'
17
SUBSTITUTIONS
Gonzalo Higuain
Forward/Striker
55'
9
Andrej Kramaric
Forward/Striker
57'
9
Cristian Pavón
Midfielder
56'
22
Mateo Kovacic
Midfielder
82'
8
Paulo Dybala
Forward/Striker
68'
21
Vedran Corluka
Defender
90 + 3'
5
CARDS
Gabriel Mercado
Defender
51'
2
Ante Rebic
Forward/Striker
40'
18
Nicolas Otamendi
Defender
85'
17
Mario Mandzukic
Forward/Striker
58'
17
Marcos Acuna
Defender
87'
8
Sime Vrsaljko
Defender
67'
2
KEY
Goal
Penalty Missed
Yellow Card
Substitute IN
Own Goal
Penalty Shootout Goal
Yellow / Red Card
Substitute OUT
Penalty
Penalty Shootout Miss
Red Card
Injury
GALLERY
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