Lionel Messi’s quest for a World Cup title has been knocked out of the park by Croatia as they defeated a hapless Argentina 3-0 in Nizhny Novgorod. Argentina collapsed in the second half after a blunder by goalkeeper Willy Caballero gifted Croatia the first goal. Luka Modric scored a screamer to double Croatia’s lead and they got an easy third in stoppage time through Ivan Rakitic.
The defeat means that Argentina have got just one point from two matches. Their chances of qualification has been taken out of their hands as they will have to hope for other results to go their way and beat Nigeria in their final group stage match. If they don’t, this will be the first time since 2002 and just the seventh time in the tournament’s history that Argentina are eliminated in the group stage.
Their talismanic forward and five-time Ballon d’Or is yet to score in Russia and was once again largely anonymous on the pitch.
But it is to be noted that Croatia produced a brilliantly ruthless performance to take the Argentines to task and secure their place in the Round of 16. They didn’t allow La Albiceste any quarters in the first half and put them under pressure whenever the play switched.
In the second half, goalkeeper Willy Caballero tried to chip a ball to straight to Rebic who whipped in a volley first time to give Croatia the lead. Real Madrid star and Croatia captain Luka Modric scored a stunner in the 80th minute to double their lead. The Argentina players completely lost the plot then, picking fights with the opposition players and referees with little reason. Croatia simply strolled into the box and Caballero was left with no protection as Ivan Rakitic scored the third to confirm their superiority.