Argentina and Lionel Messi’s World Cup was thrown into a state of disarray as goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic saw Croatia take all three points in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday evening.
What started as a cagey affair quickly turned into a nightmare unfolding in front of the eyes of Albiceleste boss Jorge Sampaoli, with Rebic grabbing the first of the game thanks to a blunder from Willy Caballero.
The mistake was matched by the technique from the Croatian forward, who never took his eyes off the ball and fired home a sumptuous volley.
Argentina threw on the big guns in the shape of Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala, but despite having much of the ball, it wasn’t enough to pull them back into the game.
Luka Modric fired a stunning shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner of Caballero’s net ten minutes from time, this time the effort proving simply too much for the goalkeeper who could do nothing to prevent the goal.
With Messi and co desperate to get back into the game, the final nail in the coffin came seconds into added time, as Ivan Rakitic put the ball into a virtually empty net and left one of football’s great international teams on the verge of disaster on the world stage.
With Iceland to play Nigeria on Friday morning, Argentina sit third in the group on one point, ahead of only Nigeria, who lost their first match against Croatia by the same scoreline. On six points, Croatia are guaranteed to progress to the next round, though they are yet to wrap up top spot with Iceland still having an outside chance of achieving the unthinkable.