Croatia decimate Argentina in a 3-0 defeat at Russia 2018

Croatia decimate Argentina in a 3-0 defeat at Russia 2018

- Ante Rebic put Croatia ahead thanks to an embarrassing mistake from Argentina keeper Caballero

- It is Argentina's biggest group stage defeat in the World Cup in 60 years.

- Argentina play Nigeria in their last group game as Croatia comes up against Iceland.

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It was not a night to be for Leo Messi and co as a Luka Modric led Croatia beat Argentina by 3 goals to nil. Leo Messi playing the entirety of the game without a shot on goal is perhaps the best portrait summary of the game.

As early as the 3rd minute, Croatia had the first chance of the game. Perisic found space down the left wing and got into the Argentina box but his shot was parried by Willy Caballero.

Argentina responded by attempting to make the pitch as wide in the early part of the game as possible with wing-backs Acuna and Salvio.

The good amount of possession almost paid for Albiceleste when a 13th minute pullback from Eduardo Salvio found Meza. But Maxi Meza had his shot was blocked by Dejan Lovren.

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There was a scary moment in the 20th minute for Argentina as Willy Caballero's pass to Tagliafico was found short with Madzkukic almost capitalising.

Argentina vs Croatia

Mandzukic and Mercado go into the air for the ball. Photo credit: Getty Images

Argentina continued with their possession yet key men such as Aguero and Messi could not be found. In the 22nd minute a poor cross from Acuna shaved the top of the Croatian bar.

Briefly.co.za learned Argentina kept on pressing and in the 29th minute it almost paid dividend.

A mix up in the Croatian defence presented a beautiful chance for Argentina's Enzo Perez but the midfielder put the ball wide even though the Croatia goalie was nowhere near goal.

Croatia rallied themselves and pushed back. In the 32nd minute a switch in play from Mandzukic found Vrsaljko. The Atletico Madrid defender got a cross into the Argentina box but Madzukic could not connect properly with ball.

Argentina vs Croatia

Argentina's Willy Caballero hold his head in embarrassment. Photo credit: Getty Images

Another Croatian chance from a counter-attack fell to Ante Rebic but the forward put the ball wide.

The first half ended goalless.

The second half resumed on a rather dull not with either side playing cautiously. A good spell of passing from Argentina got Aguero through but his shot was feeble.

In quick response in the 52nd minute, Croatia pushed forward and forced Argentina goalkeeper Caballero into a mistake.

The Chelsea goalie in clearing the ball from his goal area mistakenly found a grateful Rebic. The Croatia forward's spectacular volley from 15 yards out flew into the Argentine goal.

Argentina made substitutions. Higuain came in for Aguero and Pavon for Salvio. Croatia responded by taking off Rebic for Andrej Kramaric.

After 60 minutes, Argentina seemed like a team in disarray.

But they came close on the 63rd minute mark when Higuain's pullback found Messi. However, the Argentine captain's shot was blocked by Barcelona teammate Ivan Rakitic.

Argentina threw on Paulo Dybala for Enzo Perez in the 68th minute to try and open things upfront for the South Americans. What rather ensued was an end to end affair as the game approached the end.

In the 80th minute, Croatia came forward with the ball trying to push back Argentina. But when the ball came to captain Luka Modric, the Real Madrid playmaker eluded his marker and released a thunderbolt from 25 yards out.

Willy Cabllero could not stop the inevitable as Croatia went 2-0 up. Argentina looked like the life had been taken out of them from here onwards.

Croatia came close to increasing Argentina's misery in the 86th minute when Ivan Rakitic's free-kick from 30 yards out hit Argentina's cross bar. Caballero did not flinch.

A counter attack from Croatia in injury time put three Croatian attackers in the Argentine box. They could not be played offside as Rakitic was set up by Kovacic and the midfielder slotted home to make it 3-0.

The rest of injury time could change nothing as Argentina fell to their biggest group stage defeat at the Mundial in 60 years.

The task is now difficult for Argentina who are hoping the match between Iceland and Nigeria has a scoreline that favours them.

Argentina play Nigeria in their last group game as Iceland face Croatia.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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