Croatia had a shock 3-0 win over Argentina at Nizhny Novgorod in the Group D match on Thursday.
The leaden-footed Argentinians were no match to the tall and agile Croats who dominated the game throughout.
After missing the penalty in the opener against Iceland at Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Argentina’s Messi messed up another chance on Thursday during a scramble at Argentina’s post. All he had to do was toss the ball into the net. But his push went out.
Both sides played well in the first half making efforts to create openings. The first 30 minutes of play exposed weakness in Argentina’s back line. Their defenders were leaving room for Croats to make a try at the goal.
In the dying moments of the first half, Croatia’s Ante Rebic got a chance to score but his shot went over the bar.
In the second half, Croats made some brisk moves. Their first goal was gifted by Argentinian goalkeeper Willy Caballero in the 53rd minute. His feeble kick went straight to Ante Rebic who sent a powerful volley to the top corner of the net.
Stung by the goal, Argentina tried for the equaliser which ever came.
Croatia scored again in the 81st minute. Collecting the ball about 25 yards outside, captain Luka Modric (pictured) dribbled the ball left to right in quick succession as if to strike and found a gap to send a powerful volley curling into the corner. It was a difficult goal well executed and reminded of another classy goal by Spanish striker Diego Costa against Portugal.
As Argentinians lost hopes, tempers began to run high and the game became rough. Yellow cards were shown to players on both sides after some pushing and shoving.
Croatia struck again in the 91st minute again. After goalkeeper Caballero parried Rakitic’s shot, Kovacic took possession of the ball and moved into the box area from left drawing out Caballero. But instead of taking the shot, he passed the ball to Rakitic who drove it home with the goalkeeper not in position and a defender helplessly watching the ball racing into the net.