Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero committed an absolute howler in their World Cup Group D encounter against Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Friday. In a moment of utter madness, Caballero gifted a goal when a pass by Otamendi saw him attempt a chip back to the defender but unfortunately, the ball fell straight on to the path of Croatia’s Ante Rebic, who obliged with a beautiful volley into the net. Incidentally, Caballero is the fourth goalkeeper in the tournament to make an error directly leading to a goal. David de Gea, Wojciech Szczesny, Mohammed Al-Owais are the three others on the unwanted list.
The match was evenly poised at 0-0 when the first 45 minutes came to an end. But floodgates opened for Croatia eight minutes into the second half after Caballero’s blunder. But what could have led to such a grave error from the 36-year-old playing only his fourth international game? Probably lack of experience of performing on the big stage could be one reason as Caballero attempted to flick the ball instead of opting for a simple pass. The decision to put the ball above a chasing Rebic backfired as the Croat latched on to the rebound and blasted it back past him with a stunning technique to take the lead in the 53rd minute and send shock waves among La Albiceleste.
HOWLER BY WILLY CABALLERO!!!!! Shocking mistake by the #Argentina goalkeeper gifts #Croatia the 1-0 lead!!! Ante Rebić took advantage after overcoming his surprise. #ARGCRO #ARG #CRO 😱😱 pic.twitter.com/etvCCeLVE2
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) 21 June 2018
Argentine fans will argue that Rebic should not have been on the field in the first place due to his poor tackle on Eduardo Salvio in the 39th minute. However, the referee only brandished a yellow card. Shortly after the goal, Rebic was substituted and replaced by Andrej Kramaric.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Caballero has committed faults. In the game against Iceland, he parried the ball onto Alfred Finnbogason who levelled for Iceland in their 1-1 draw. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho later took a dig at the Chelsea No 2 and said on Russia Today, “One chance, one goal, Caballero in goal or myself would be the same because I would save the same as Caballero, there was not one single dangerous situation.”
Argentina faces Nigeria in their next encounter. But the result between Iceland and Nigeria on Friday will be crucial for the men in blue and white as it will reveal how far they proceed in the tournament.