World Cup 2018: Argentina Close To Elimination After 3-0 Loss To Croatia
Argentina suffered a brutal 3-0 loss to Croatia at the World Cup in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on Thursday, and thus finds itself one step closer to elimination after just one round.
The South Americans — led by star forward Lionel Messi — have not yet won a game in the tournament. Argentina tied Iceland 1-1 in its opener on Saturday, and will face Nigeria in its third and final group-stage game on Tuesday at 2pm EST.
All of Croatia’s goals came in the second half. Ante Rebic scored first, then Luka Modric, before Ivan Rakitic — Messi’s Barcelona teammate — added insult to injury with a goal in stoppage time.
Rebic scored in the 53rd minute after Argentina’s goalie Willy Caballero made a huge mistake. Caballero messed up a pass to a defender and lobbed it almost perfectly up for Rebic to volley it over the keeper’s head and into the goal.
Then in the 80th, Modric fired a spectacular shot from near the edge of the penalty box that placed the ball just inside the right post to make it 2-0.
Finally, Rakitic scored the final goal less than one minute into injury time after taking a shot that Caballero blocked. Argentina’s goalie then came out to block Mateo Kovacic, to whom the rebound had fallen, before Kovacic tapped the ball back to Rakitic for the Barcelona star to slot into an empty net.
Just moments before his goal, Rakitic took a free kick for Croatia in the 86th minute that ended with the ball hitting the crossbar.
Argentina had several close chances, including one from Enzo Perez in the 29th minute. Perez took a wide-open shot from the top of the box that flew just inches from the left post. Croatian goalie Danijel Subasic had rushed out to make a save.
In the 64th, Argentina blew another great chance. Gonazlo Higuain raced toward the end line and made a low cross to pass to Maximiliano Meza, who took a shot in the box from just a few yards away that Subasic blocked. Messi tried to get the rebound but a Croatian defender kicked the ball out of bounds.
Croatia now comfortably leads Group D with six points — after a 2-0 victory over Nigeria in its opener — while Argentina and Iceland both have 1 point.
Messi is still goalless in the World Cup, as Sergio Aguero scored Argentina’s only goal against Iceland.
Earlier on Thursday, France defeated Peru 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kylian Mbappe, while Denmark and Australia tied 1-1. France leads Group C with six points after beating Australia 2-1 in its opener, while second-place Denmark has four points.