Jorge Sampaoli’s side have a point on the board but will need much more in their second game if they are to have a chance of getting out of the group

That’s all from us tonight, we hope you enjoyed the game!

Argentina now sweat on the result of Iceland’s clash with Nigeria tomorrow in Group D – and a win for the former would leave them three points off second place ahead of their own game against the African nation next week. Croatia will face Iceland themselves next week as they look to go unbeaten to the knockout stages.

It all started going wrong for Argentina when Willy Caballero made a dreadful error to gift Ante Rebic a golden chance to volley home for the lead – but the simple fact is they were outclassed and outgunned across 90 minutes by a fantastic Croatia performance as the latter book their place in the knockout stages with a wonderful 3-0 win. A gorgeous strike from Luka Modric sealed the deal 14 minutes from time and an Ivan Rakitic injury time tap-in added some gloss; they march on to the round of 16 and leave Argentina’s World Cup hopes out of their hands. Full-time at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, it finishes Argentina 0-3 Croatia.


90+4mins: Corluka immediately picks up a yellow card as he slides in on Messi, denying the Argentina captain a final chance to break towards the Croatian box.

90+3 mins: 

90+1 mins: RAKITIC! CROATIA LEAD ARGENTINA 3-0! From the corner down the other end of the field, Rakitic, Kovacic and Mandzukic break down the middle of the park with a leisurely pace. It’s Rakitic who puts the first shot on Caballero, saved by the keeper – but the ball deflects back to Kovacic who simply squares it back to the Barcelona man to clip home. What a showing from Croatia.

90 mins: Meza cuts a neat path around three Croatian defenders on the edge of the box and turns a shot back in upon himself towards the right post; Vida slides in and puts it out for a corner. Four added minutes on the way.

87 mins: Acuna comes in heavy on Vrsaljko on halfway and another yellow card is brandished by the referee. It’s been a feisty encounter, and tempers are spilling over at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

86 mins: Off the crossbar from Rakitic! That’s a brilliant free-kick, lifted over the wall and back off the top left corner as it dips. Croatia spear the rebound wide and away for a goal-kick.

85 mins: Mascherano comes in with a clattering challenge on Rakitic and Otamendi tries to follow up with an attempted clearance that catches the Croatian in the face on the ground. A bit of a scuffle erupts between both sets of players, resolved with a free-kick 25 yards out for Croatia and a booking for Otamendi.

82 mins: Mateo Kovacic is the latest change of the game, coming on for Perisic as the game gets back underway.

81 mins: Brozovic gets the assist, but the credit goes to both him and Rakitic after the pair combined down the left wing to cut open the opposition defence. Fantastic stuff from Croatia; they are in full flow now.

80 mins: GOAL! WHAT A SENSATIONAL STRIKE FROM LUKA MODRIC! CROATIA LEAD 2-0! That was pure class from the Real Madrid man as, played a square ball by Brozovic out on the right, launches a beautiful right-footed effort that curls around Tagliafico and nestles in at the right post. Croatia wheel away in wild celebration; halfway up the field, Lionel Messi stares with misery at the turf. Argentina are heading for defeat.

79 mins: Acuna and Perisic hurtle down the right wing chasing a ball clipped on by Modric; the former goes down under pressure from the latter as they approach the Argentina box and wins a free-kick.

77 mins: Rakitic walks slowly to the side of the field after a prolonged break in play, but is not substituted as the game continues.

75 mins: Rakitic goes down in the centre circle and stays down as play continues around him. Eventually play is halted by the referee in the midst of a sustained spell of pressure from Argentina, to the outrage of their players who react furiously.

73 mins: Strinic clips Messi to the ground near the Argentina box and the two have a little bit of afters, following which the latter is awarded a free-kick.

71 mins: Dybala makes a quick impact, spearing a shot over the crossbar from 18 yards out on the right. It’s not too shoddy an effort either; Croatia’s defence is still somewhat loose around the box.

69 mins: Argentina’s desperation is palpable right now, especially as another loose pass in midfield allows Modric and Rakitic to tear down the left wing. They manage to defuse the danger through Otamendi but Croatia aren’t sitting back to protect their lead, pressing for a second goal of their own.

68 mins: Perez is the final man to be substituted by Argentina as Paulo Dybala arrives.

67 mins: Vrsaljko now gets a booking after he clatters Acuna out on the left wing with a heavy-footed challenge for the fourth yellow card of the game.

66 mins: Mandzukic hits the side netting! He is gets a glorious cross from Vrsaljko on the left and just steers it wide with his right foot under pressure from Tagliafico.

64 mins: Meza and Messi miss on the goal-line! Superb scrambling defence from Subasic and Rakitic deny close-range efforts to scuff the ball over at the left post after Higuain puts a lovely flat ball in from the left wing. Croatia come away with their lead intact – just.

60 mins: Croatia are playing with such buoyancy on the back of that goal now, but Argentina’s new changes are already making an impact; Pavon spears a neat pass through for Higuain whose square ball in near the opposition box takes a glance off Rakitic who clears before any serious danger presents itself.

58 mins: Mandzukic cuts down Meza as he looks to break up a potential Argentina counter-attack and is booked for his foul by referee Irmatov.

57 mins: Now Croatia make a change as goalscorer Rebic pulls up with a problem; he is off after a moment with Andrej Kramaric on to take his spot.

56 mins: Perisic rockets another cross into the box for Croatia though Mandzukic can’t make anything of it. Argentina make another change now too; Salvio makes way for Cristian Pavon.

54 mins: What a mistake from Caballero. As Croatia return to restart from their celebrations, Argentina make their first change as they seek to recover from a goal down; Aguero is off and Gonzalo Higuain is on.

53 mins: REBIC SCORES! 1-0 TO CROATIA! That is an absolute howler of a goalkeeping error from Willy Caballero! Supplied a back-pass from Mercado, he mistimes his kick and chips it high – straight into the path of the Croatian winger who volleys it at close range into the top right corner. Argentina have just shot themselves in the foot.

52 mins: Aguero gets through on goal through the left, only to stick his shot straight to Subasic with a tame finish. Argentina still looking for that instinctive touch in the opposition box.

51 mins: Rebic breaks down the left wing on the back of a lovely Modric pass, and Mercardo catches him sharply to halt his stride. The Argentinian man is booked straight away for his foul.

49 mins: Modric accidentally handles the ball 30 yards out from his goal and Argentina take a free-kick; Acuna’s first touch is soft though and Croatia are able to come away from their half unscathed.

48 mins: Salvio pings a long ball down the right wing looking to pick out Messi or Aguero, but Vida gets a header to it first and plays it back to the safety of Subasic in goal.

46 mins: The second half is underway!

Zlatko Dalic is likely to be the happier of the two managers during the break; though his side have had less overall possession. They have offered more threat and twice as many attempts on goal as their opponents. As for Argentina, Jorge Sampaoli will have to decide whether to make an early change to improve the supply to Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero up front; both have been unable to offer much threat, despite the occasionally leaky work of the Croatian defence.

Poor finishing and nervy defending is the story of the first half at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium as neither Argentina or Croatia are able to find a breakthrough. A pair of absolute sitters for Enzo Perez and Mario Mandzukic in the space of three minutes represent the best chances either side have had despite some shambolic back-line work from both teams – so at half-time, it remains Argentina 0-0 Croatia.


45+2 mins: What an awful finish from Rebic! A beautiful cross field pass from Modric finds him unmarked on the left wing but he makes an awful first touch and his follow-up steers the ball well wide to the right.

45 mins: Two added minutes on the way at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

43 mins: Salvio wins another free-kick for Argentina off Rebic but his delivery deep is poor and a moment later, Croatia win themselves one after a foul on Vida by Messi.

41 mins: Despite those aforementioned issues at the back for both sides so far, there has only been five shots in this game so far; two for Argentina and three for Croatia.

39 mins: Rebic gets the first booking of the game as he comes in, studs up, on Salvio and catches him in the ankle. Argentina coach Sampaoli remonstrates loudly to the referee for VAR, wanting a red card; none is forthcoming.

38 mins: Play is back underway and Subasic has an easy collection as Mascherano sticks a soft effort into the box.

36 mins: Rebic concedes a free-kick inside his own half for a high challenge after he and Mercado clash in mid-air with the latter coming off worse.

33 mins: ​Mandzukic! Another massive miss in this game, this time as Vrsaljko delivers a wonderful cross in off the right wing and the striker can only land a glance with his diving header from six yards out on the left, sticking it wide of the near post. How this game has not seen a goal yet is a minor miracle.

32 mins: Bad defending is catching, it seems; Vida sticks a square pass across the back-line in sniffing distance of Messi and the captain puts it straight to Subasic.

30 mins: What a miss by Perez! Meza fools Subasic and coaxes him out of his six yard area; a deflected square ball lands at the feet of the River Plate man and, with practically an empty net in front of him, pulls it wide at the near-left post. That could come back to haunt Argentina; a golden chance goes begging.

29 mins: Despite being the more lacklustre of the two sides in Nizhny Novgorod, Argentina have seen more of the ball; they have had 57 percent of possession so far.

27 mins: Meza wastes the set-piece and puts it straight into the side netting. Croatia get the goal-kick.

26 mins: Argentina win themselves a corner now as Aguero intercepts a pass 40 yards out and carves a path into the box before seeing Vida deflect his low shot out over the crossbar.

25 mins: Now it is Subasic’s turn to put himself under pressure as he mishandles a back-pass from Lovren and has to frantically clear his lines under pressure from Meza.

23 mins: Croatia are looking to find the net for their sixth consecutive World Cup game, to extend their current record streak of five. They’re looking like they might, given the fragility of the Argentina back-line…

21 mins: Acuna! The winger’s cross in from the left is hooked wide of the mark – and hits the crossbar instead. An almost accidental score for the Argentina man there.

20 mins: Mandzukic intercepts Caballero’s pass to Tagliafico inside the Argentina box! The Croatian brings down the defender and concedes a free-kick in the process but that was an absolute howler of a soft delivery from the keeper to his left-back.

18 mins: Tagliafico and Otamendi play it around the back only to put it out for a throw-in. Argentina recover and take it down the other end through Messi, only for them to concede a free-kick after Mascherano fouls Modric.

16 mins: Perez and Rakitic both slide in on each other in pursuit of a loose pass and it is the latter who gets the free-kick just over halfway after staying down.

14 mins: It’s a poor set-piece from Argentina who play it short and around the box, allowing Rakitic to hound them back into their own half with a speculative interception.

13 mins: Superb block by Lovren! Meza arrives on the back of a cut-back pass from Salvio in the middle of the box and lashes it towards goal, with the defender getting his body in the way in time to deflect it. Corner to Argentina.

12 mins: Messi! The Argentina captain can’t get the end of his foot on a chipped pass eight yards out from the Croatian goal and can only watch as it bounces into the hands of Subasic.

10 mins: Chance for Croatia! Rakitic pings a lovely cross over to the right edge of the Argentina box which Modric turns back in for Rebic, only for Tagliafico to get wrapped up in it and clip it away from danger for Argentina. 

9 mins: A moment later, Mandzukic has the favour returned as Tagliafico catches him on the foot and Croatia are awarded a free-kick deep in their own half.

7 mins: Mandzukic clatters Otamendi as the two chase a ball in the Argentina half and the latter wins a free-kick, though he takes a moment to get gingerly back to his feet.

5 mins: Mascherano is the hero for Argentina as he clears the set-piece at the second attempt following a nervy moment in the box following the in-swinging set-piece. Croatia will be all too aware of their opposition’s defensive flaws and their liability to be caught out at the back.

4 mins: Strong attacking work from Argentina has kept Croatia mostly pinned in their own half but then Perisic sets off flying down the left flank with the ball to force them into defence. The attacking midfielder cuts in and spears a low shot in; Caballero gets his fingertips to it and pushes it away for a corner.

2 mins: Rakitic is almost dispossessed by Aguero as the Croatian midfielder looks to bring the ball away from his own box; he manages to hold onto it before slipping a through ball down the centre for Modric which Perez picks up instead.

1 min: Here we go!

5 MINS TILL KO: The teams are out and the anthems are underway, so kick-off is just moments away!

Messi set a personal record for the number of shots he has attempted in a single World Cup game against Iceland, firing the ball at the net an impressive 11 times. He of course failed to score – and as such has not had a goal in 21 successive World Cup shots.

10 mins till KO: The pair have met on four previous occasions, with Messi scoring the winner on their last encounter in a 2014 friendly – but they have only clashed once at the World Cup. They faced off in the group stages of France 1998; Mauricio Pineda’s strike proved to be the goal to give Argentina the victory.

Croatia defender Vedran Corluka is on the bench for his country today, but if he gets on, will make win his 100th cap for his country, becoming the second member of their World Cup squad to do so after Luka Modric.

15 mins till KO: Sampaoli’s team thought they were headed for victory over minnows Iceland when Maximiliano Meza was fouled for a penalty in the 64th minute with the scores locked. Yet captain Lionel Messi saw his tame effort saved by Hannes Halldorsson and La Albiceleste couldn’t find a way through for the rest of the game, leaving Argentina winless in their opening game of a World Cup for the first time since Italy 1990 when they were shocked by Cameroon. Can they offer a roaring riposte today in Nizhny Novgorod?

Dalic’s side weren’t the most convincing of winners despite their 2-0 margin against Nigeria, relying on a penalty and an own goal – and the coach has faced further difficulties off the pitch this week in the shape of striker Nikola Kalinic, who has been sent home from the World Cup. Kalinic refused to come on off the bench Croatia’s Group D clash, as he had previously against Brazil in a warm-up friendly, citing a back issue; no other player has been allowed to be called up to the squad in his place.

20 mins till KO: A quick reminder of the team news tonight.

ARGENTINA (4-2-3-1): Willy Caballero; Nicolas Tagliafico, Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Mercado, Eduardo Salvio; Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez; Maximiliano Meza, Lionel Messi , Marcos Acuna; Sergio Aguero

Argentina subs: Franco Armani, Paulo Dybala, Ever Banega, Cristian Ansaldi, Marcos Rojo, Lucas Biglia, Gonzalo Higuain, Ángel Di Maria, Federico Fazio, Nahuel Guzman, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Pavon

CROATIA (4-5-1): Danijel Subasic; Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren; Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ante Rebic; Mario Mandzukic

Croatia subs: Josip Pivaric, Vedran Corluka, Dominik Livakovic, Marko Pjaca, Lovre Kalinic, Tin Jedvaj, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Duje Caleta-Car, Filip Bradaric, Milan Badelj

25 mins till KO: As for Croatia, they make just the one alteration to the team who claimed a two-goal victory over Nigeria in Kaliningrad; striker Andrek Kramaric is dropped to the bench as manager Zlatko Dalic favours a stockier midfield, with Marcelo Brozovic the man to replace him.

30 mins till KO: Team news now as we await kick-off and Argentina have switched it up for their penultimate game of the group stages, as they look to bounce back from their lacklustre first-game showing. Angel Di Maria is among a trio of players dropped from the starting XI, alongside Marcos Rojo and Lucas Biglia, as Jorge Sampaoli opts to ring the changes; they are replaced by Marcos Acuna, Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez respectively. 

35 mins till KO: Argentina and Croatia meet in the third game of Group D at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod tonight. La Albiceleste are looking to put themselves in the driving seat for the knockout stages after being held to a draw by Iceland in their opening clash – but with their opponents looking to secure a place in the round of 16 on the back of their defeat in Nigeria, will the 2014 runners-up have enough to get the three points?

45 mins till KO: Hello and welcome to Goal’s live blog and commentary of the Group D match between Argentina and Croatia at the 2018 World Cup.

Squads & Team News

Argentina XI: Caballero; Salvio, Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Mascherano, Perez; Acuna, Messi, Meza; Aguero

Argentina subs: Armani, Dybala, Ever Banega, Ansaldi, Rojo, Biglia, Higuain, Di Maria, Fazio, Guzman, Lo Celso, Pavon

Croatia XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Brozovic, Rakitic; Perisic, Modric, Rebic; Mandzukic

Croatia subs: Pivaric, Corluka, Livakovic, Pjaca, Kalinic, Jedvaj, Kovacic, Kramaric, Caleta-Car, Bradaric, Badel​

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