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    Friday, June 22, 2018

    Argentina vs Croatia: How We Won the Match —Modric

    Croatia are through to the last 16 of the World Cup after a stunning 3-0 victory in Nizhny Novgorod which leaves Argentina in serious danger of exiting at the group stage.
    Captain Luka Modric hailed his Croatia side’s “deserved” 3-0 victory over Argentina on Thursday but called on them to keep their feet on the ground after qualifying for the World Cup knockout rounds.

    Zlatko Dalic’s men outclassed their opponents in Nizhny Novgorod, leaving Lionel Messi and two-time world champions Argentina on the brink of an embarrassing group-stage exit.
    Let’s not be euphoric or get ahead of ourselves,” said Real Madrid midfielder Modric, who scored the second goal.

    “Of course this win will boost our confidence for the next game, and we have shown we can create opportunities, but let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground.
    “Our team effort throughout (was the key) and particularly in the second half when we had more possession.
    “In the first half when Argentina had the ball we cut off Messi and stopped him getting the ball. We created three clear chances which we missed. But in the second half it opened up and we deserved to win.”

    Croatia were the better side for the majority of the match, but missed several first-half chances to break the deadlock, while Argentina midfielder Enzo Perez somehow contrived to miss an open goal.
    A horrendous error by Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero allowed Ante Rebic to drill in a magnificent 53rd-minute volley, but Croatia coach Dalic insisted that mistake was not the only reason his team won.

    “We created three chances in the first half, these were sitters. (Ivan) Perisic in the left channel, (Mario) Mandzukic’s was harder to miss than to score, and Rebic,” he said.
    That mistake did open things up for us, but we deserved that goal as it wasn’t our first chance, it was our fourth. We deserved everything we got out of this game.”

    Opta stats
    This was Croatia's first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup.
    This was Argentina's heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958.
    Argentina have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974.
    Argentina are now winless in their last four World Cup games (D2 L2), their longest ever such run in the competition.
    This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals.
    Lionel Messi - who had 11 shots in the opening game against Iceland - didn't manage a single attempt on goal until the 64th minute of this match.
    Lionel Messi has had more shots than any other player so far at this World Cup (12) but has failed to score with any of them.

    Man of the Match - Ivan Rakitic
    Croatia could lay serious claim to having the best central midfield at this World Cup. Rakitic and Modric were exceptional once again, ably supported by the willing Marcelo Brozovic. It would be tempting to give the award to Modric, especially after thatstunning goal, but Rakitic's quality and consistency was rewarded with an injury-time tap in and he just edges a close contest.

    What's next?
    The final games in Group D take place at 7pm BST on Tuesday evening. Argentina will surely need a victory against Nigeria in St Petersburg, while Croatia face Iceland in Rostov-on-Don at the same time, looking to clinch top spot in the group.
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