Messi's Argentina Facing Elimination, Croatia Advance
2018 World Cup Report: Argentina v Croatia 21 June 2018
2018 World Cup
Result Argentina 0-3 Croatia
Date: 21 June 2018
Venue: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Argentina are facing elimination at the 2018 World Cup after they suffered a shock 3-0 loss to Croatia, who have progressed to the round of 16.
Click through the gallery to see the best images of the game.
Jorge Sampaoli once again decided to leave Paulo Dybala on the bench, although Angel Di Maria was also left out after his disappointing display against Iceland.
The Croatians got off to a lively start, with Ivan Perisic forcing Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero into a fine save after just four minutes.
Argentina, meanwhile, struggled to get their attacking game going as Croatia were enjoying most of the possession in the opening 20 minutes.
La Albiceleste should have gone ahead after 29 minutes when a mix-up in defence saw the ball fall to Enzo Perez 12-yards out, but the midfielder placed his effort wide of the goal with a gaping net.
Croatia squandered a glorious chance of their own three minutes later when Mario Mandzukic, un-marked, somehow headed wide from six-yards out.
That proved to be the final clear-cut opening of the half as the sides struggled to create openings for the remainder of the first half.
Ante Rebić broke the deadlock for Zlatko Dalic’s troops eight minutes after the break with a superb half-volley over goalkeeper Caballero, who gifted the forward the ball with a terrible pass inside the box.
Lionel Messi had his first chance at goal for La Albiceleste in the 63rd minute with a low strike at the near post but his strike was blocked by Ivan Rakitic.
Sampaoli’s men lacked inspiration with a quarter of an hour left to play and were getting frustrated by the robust defence of the Vatreni, despite the introduction of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala.
Luka Modric threw a sucker punch at Argentina with a sensational strike from just outside the box 10 minutes before time to make it 2-0 for Croatia.
Rakitic almost made it 3-0 for Croatia with a free-kick five minutes before time but his effort struck the crossbar.
Rakitic was not to be denied in second-half stoppage time as he tapped home from close range to round off an impressive win for Croatia.
Croatia now move top of Group D with six points, while Argentina sit in third spot with one point from their opening two games.