Argentina are on the brink of World Cup exit following a disgraceful display against Croatia, with Willy Caballero handing Ante Rebic a gift from heaven and Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic extending the lead late on. By the way, Lionel Messi went missing – the whole match.
2018 World Cup
4′ CHANCE! Perisic’s shot saved
Perisic cuts in and spears a low shot in; Caballero gets his fingertips to it and pushes it away for a corner.
12′ Messi inches away from providing a goalscoring touch
The Argentina captain can’t get the end of his foot on a chipped pass eight yards out from the Croatian goal and can only watch as it bounces into the hands of Subasic.
13′ Lovren blocks Meza’s goal-bound strike
Superb block by Lovren! Meza arrives on the back of a cut-back pass from Salvio in the middle of the box and lashes it towards goal, with the defender getting his body in the way in time to deflect it.
21′ Acuna’s cross hits the bar
Acuna crosses in from the left is hooked wide of the mark – and hits the crossbar instead. An almost accidental score for the Argentina man there.
29′ Enzo Perez misses an empty net!
With practically an empty net in front of him, Perez pulls it wide at the near-left post. That could come back to haunt Argentina; a golden chance goes begging.
32′ WHAT A CHANCE! Mandzukic’s header wide out
Vrsaljko delivers a cross in off the right wing but Mandzukic can only land a glance with his diving header from six yards out on the left, sticking it wide of the near post.
53′ GOAL! Argentina 0-1 Croatia (Rebić)
That is an absolute howler of a goalkeeping error from Willy Caballero! Supplied a back-pass from Mercado, he mistimes his kick and chips it high – straight into the path of Rebic.
The Croatian winger who volleys it at close range into the top right corner. Argentina have just shot themselves in the foot.
63′ Messi’s point blank shot blocked by Rakitic
Meza and Messi miss on the goal-line! Superb scrambling defence from Subasic and Rakitic deny close-range efforts to scuff the ball over at the left post after Higuain puts a lovely flat ball in from the left wing.
80′ GOAL! Argentina 0-2 Croatia (Modrić)
That was pure class from the Real Madrid man as, played a square ball by Brozovic out on the right, launches a beautiful right-footed effort that curls around Tagliafico and nestles in at the right post.
Croatia wheel away in wild celebration; halfway up the field, Lionel Messi stares with misery at the turf. Argentina are heading for defeat.
85′ Yellow Card! N. Otamendi booked
Otamendi kicks the ball at Rakatic’s head from point blank range, which leads to a bust up from both sides. The Manchester City defender gets only a yellow card afterwards.
90′ GOAL! Argentina 0-3 Croatia (Rakitic)
From the corner down the other end of the field, Rakitic, Kovacic and Mandzukic break down the middle of the park with a leisurely pace.
It’s Rakitic who puts the first shot on Caballero, saved by the keeper – but the ball deflects back to Kovacic who simply squares it back to the Barcelona man to clip home. What a showing from Croatia.
Willy Caballero’s clanger presented Ante Rebic with an opportunity he could not refuse, and Croatia rolled on to a stunning 3-0 victory over Argentina that sent them into the last 16 of the World Cup.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side produced an abysmal second-half display that severely damages their hopes of following Croatia out of Group D, with Caballero’s stray pass to Gabriel Mercado that was volleyed home by Ante Rebic in the 53rd minute proving the turning point.
Any hopes of a late Argentina fightback were extinguished 10 minutes from time as the irrepressible Luka Modric whipped a fine strike into the bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area.
Argentina had all but given up by the closing stages and they were punished further in stoppage time when Ivan Rakitic tapped in from close range with barely a defender in sight.
All eyes were on Lionel Messi before the game after his saved penalty in the South Americans’ opening 1-1 draw with Iceland and, once again, he was a shadow of the player that has starred for Barcelona.
Messi cut an isolated figure throughout and was unable to rouse his side in the closing stages, leaving them in danger of needing a win and a swing in goal difference to reach the knockout stages.
Argentina XI: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Mascherano, E. Perez, Salvio; Meza, Aguero, Messi.
Subs: Guzman, Armani, Ansaldi, Biglia, Fazio, Banega, Higuain, Di Maria, Rojo, Lo Celso, Dybala, Pavon.
Croatia XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Strinic, Lovren, Vida; Perisic, Rakitic, Modric (C), Brozovic; Mandzukic, Rebic.
Subs: Livakovic, L. Kalinic, Corluka, Kovacic, Kramaric, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Badelj, Pjaca, Pivaric.