Argentina stares early exit after 3-0 drubbing by Croatia

Rajat Kain

Photo - PTI/AP

Photo – PTI/AP

Football powerhouse and one of the prime contenders to lift the trophy Argentina looked hurt, hit and halved as Croatia steamrolled a 3-0 drubbing in their second league game of Group D — dubbed as a group of Death.

With a 3-0 win over Argentina, Croatia also thumped their way into the Round of 16. Its second time they have qualified for the knockout round in their fifth World Cup appearance.

Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic scored for Croatia, which is undoubtedly one of the surprise packages in this World Cup.

After a goalless but highly matched first half, Croatia stamped their authority in the second. First to score was Ante Rebic in 53rd Minute. who made the most of an error by Argentine goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Skipper Luka Modric then put his side on course in the 80th minute after hammering home a thunderous shot from just outside the area with 10 minutes left. Croatia was 2-0 up and Argentina hanging by a narrow thread.

Photo - PTI/AP

Photo – PTI/AP

The icing on the cake for Coats came in the dying minute when Ivan Rakitic struck the crossbar with a free kick, finishing off the rout and leaving a subdued Lionel Messi and his Argentina team mates dejected.

“From day one I’ve been trusting my team. Frankly speaking I did not think that we would be through after the second game but I was convinced that we would go through. Argentina wasn’t confused – we were excellent…,”Croatian Coach Zlatko Dalic said.

On the other hand, dejected Argentine Coach Jorge Sampaoli called the outcome “painful”.

“It’s been a long time since as a coach I’ve gone through this sort of experience and obviously it’s much more painful when I’m wearing the jersey of my country. Our plan for this match didn’t work out…,” Sampaoli said.

Croatia’s second win in the group guarantees them a top two place while Argentina have one point and need to win their last group game against Nigeria in St Petersburg on Tuesday to boost their chances of advancing to the second round.