MOSCOW: Lionel Messi’s World Cup dream was left hanging by a thread as Croatia powered into the last 16 with a 3-0 rout of Argentina.
Second-half goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic sealed a deserved victory as a poor Argentina were left on the brink of a humiliating first round exit on Thursday, reported AFP.
The Group D defeat means Argentina have just one point from two games, meaning they will probably have to beat Nigeria in their last game and hope other results go their way to avoid elimination, the report said.
The result left Argentinian fans in tears inside the Nizhny Novgorod stadium, while Diego Maradona watched from the stands in stunned disbelief, it added.
Croatia reportedly took the lead after a horrendous blunder by Argentine goalkeeper Willy Caballero in the 53rd minute, the stopper chipping a clearance straight to Rebic who lashed home a thunderous volley.
Real Madrid star Modric then produced an electrifying 80th-minute goal before Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Rakitic completed the scoring after Croatia sliced apart Argentina’s hapless defence in injury time.
The defeat leaves the Argentinians facing an ignominious repeat of their 2002 campaign when they also went out at the group stage after being tipped as possible World Cup winners, reported AFP.
All the attention after the 3-0 defeat will focus on Argentina and Messi but it was also the result of a fine performance by Croatia, the report pointed out.