Croatia and Argentina have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2018 Round of 16 from Group D by virtue of being the winner and runner-up in the closely contest group. Argentine captain Lionel Messi scored his first goal of FIFA World Cup 2018 in the match against Nigeria. While Croatia defeated debutant Iceland in a closely contested match 2-1, under-pressure Argentina scored through Messi and then Marcos Rojo struck in the 86th minute to ensure the South American team stays in the tournament after Nigeria had equalised from the penalty spot through Victor Moses to come within sniffing distance of the last 16.
|Group D Points Table|
Argentina, world champions in 1978 and 1986, play against France in the Round of 16 on Saturday, June 30 at 7:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST) at Kazan Arena in Kazan. Croatia take on Denmark in the pre-quarterfinals at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, July 1 at 11:30 pm IST.
The Argentine team was routed 0-3 by Croatia in Group D at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod. Croatia dominated throughout the game to beat Argentina 3-0 on June 21. It all started when Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero gifted Croatia Ante Rebic a goal with his error. Luka Modric’s stunning goal sealed the match and Ivan Rakitic made it worse for Argentina with his goal in the stoppage time. Croatia clearly outperformed Argentina to book their place in the round of 16. Argentina’s World Cup hopes virtually came to an end after the 3-0 loss.
Nigeria had colelcted three points after beating Iceland 2-0. An own goal and a penalty gave Croatia a comfortable start to their World Cup campaign as they beat Nigeria 2-0 in their Group D clash at the Kaliningrad Stadium on Saturday. Reacting to the debacle against Croatia, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr highlighted his team’s weakness in defending at set-pieces and said victory against Iceland next Friday was now a necessity.
Earlier, Minnows Iceland made a stunning World Cup appearance on Saturday when they held 2014 World cup runners-up Argentina to a 1-1 draw in a dramatic match where No.10 Lionel Messi wasted Argentina's chance to win after his penalty was saved by Iceland's Hannes Por Halldorsson.
In the Argentina-Iceland clash, Sergio Aguero gave the two-time world champions the lead after 19 minutes of the Group D match. However, Iceland, who stunned the soccer world with their run to the quarter-finals of the European Championship two years ago, showed exactly the same commitment and self-belief to hit back four minutes later through Alfred Finnbogason.
(with agency inputs)