New Delhi: Croatia made a clear mockery of the Argentine football in the crucial Group-D tie at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday evening (June 21) as the Balkans decimated Lionel Messi and his men with a stunning 3-0 win. Willy Caballero’s howler of the tournament was successfully capitalised by Ante Rebic, while mid-field duo of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic added onto Argentina’s woe as Croatia made it to the last 16 for the first time since 1998.
Four minutes into the second half, Mercado played a backpass to keeper Caballero as Ante Rebic chased it down. Caballero looked to chip it back to Mercado, but the ball teed off in front of the Croatian striker who struck it mid-air and volleyed it past the keeper to send Croatia 1-0 into the game.
With 10 minutes still to go, Luka Modric collected the ball within the 25 yards area, deceived Nicolas Otamendi and curled it past the defence and eventually a diving Caballero to end all hopes of Argentina in the game.
Ivan Rakitic added onto the woe of Argentina put the final nail in the coffin with his injury-time strike. A set piece from Croatia witnessed the ball sail to the left of the post. Rakitic looked to play it, but the ball bounced off Caballero to go to Kovacic, who rolled it through to the Barcelona midfielder as he slammed the ball down to the bottom left corner.
Argentina now have to defeat Nigeria with hopes equally rested on Iceland and Croatia matches to realise their hopes of qualifying for the last 16.