When it seemed like Argentina would fight back and give the Argentinian people what they deserved, Croatia showed their true strength and possibly put that to an end. Especially in the second half, Argentina’s defense didn’t prove credible enough, and their attacking line was made to look as if they didn’t deserve to be in the World Cup. What looked like at halftime, an even contest with a multitude of possibilities, that soon became a footballing power of which we didn’t expect versus a confused, desperate, and desolate nation of tears.
By halftime, the score showed nil-nil, seemed fair, but it was evident that the Croatians were playing the better football. This showed itself in the 53rd minute when Caballero miscued a pass forward, and midfielder Ante Rebic simply had to turn his body to score.
Although Argentina continued to hold up, they rarely found the opponent’s box and Croatia was just waiting to pounce. That came in the 80th minute when from outside the box, Luka Modric curled one into the bottom right of the net, and it was clear who the winner was.
But, Croatia didn’t stop. By this point, they wanted to make a statement and did so by making a fool of Argentina’s defense. In stoppage time, Mandzukic put the ball in the box for Kovacic, who by this point had been through the Argentinian defense, and he simply squares it in front of goal for the cousin of Modric, Rakitic.
Game. Set. Match. Croatia advance to the knockout stages while Argentina now sits 3rd in their group. It’s not over yet for Messi and his team, but they will have to pray that everything falls right for them if they can even think about advancing at this point.
Argentina next plays Nigeria on Tuesday, 26 June, at 2 PM Eastern while Croatia takes on Iceland on the same day at the same time.