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World Cup: Argentina 0-3 Croatia

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Croatia’s stunning 3-0 win over Argentina have guaranteed them a spot in the final-16, leaving the South Americans with a tough fight to make it out of the group stages.

The first 45 minutes ended in stale-mate with both sides failing to make the most of any of the chances they managed to create. The first real missed opportunity was Enzo Perez’s shot on a near open goal deflecting off Croatian defender Domagoj Vida.

The ball was then shot down the other end of the pitch, it appeared to all come together for Mario Mandzukic spearing in prime position to take the Croatians 1-0 up, but he failed to nail Sime Vrsaliko’s cross into the back of the Argentina net.

As the teams headed into the changing rooms, it was clear that both sides needed to up their defensive game and capitalise on all of their chances created.  The first half proved that the Argentinians needed to get the ball to their star player Lionel Messi if they were to score, with the Croatians also needing some star power of their own up front.

The real drama came in the second half when Eduardo Salvio opened up the scoring after capitalising on the Argentinian keeper’s disastrous mistake, who practically threw the ball at Salvio then volleying it in the back of the South Americans net.

With Croatia putting themselves ahead at the 53-minute mark, Argentina needed to produce something special to bring themselves back into contention. It was clear they were looking to Messi to equalise, but their attempts seemed meaningless.

With Croatia managing to contain the Argentinian attacking threats, the Real Madrid midfield superstar, Modric, managed to fire in a stunning shot from 20 yards out, surely dashing any Argentinian hopes of stealing the game.

The Modric goal clearly hung in the air and the Argentinians looked hopeless like they had already accepted their bitter defeat, looking on to their final match with Nigeria.

Croatia hammered in the final nail in the Argentinian coffin during injury time. Kovacic was quick to pass the ball into the back of the net following Caberello spilling the ball from an incredible save from Kovacic’s initial wonder strike.

The final whistle has ensured Croatia will move on into the final-16, having accumulated all six points from their last two games.

With the picture looking rosy for the Europeans, the World Cup dream seems to have distanced itself from Argentina.

Lionel Messi’s huge talent seemed to have little impact on dragging up the quality of the rest of his team, who are left praying that the results go their way so they may progress into the final-16.

Nigeria need to hold Iceland to a draw or win, with the South Americans also needing to defeat Nigeria if they were to have any hopes of moving out of the group stage.

Media Credit - FIFA. Flickr Commons, Nazionale Calcio.

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