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Croatia, France advance to World Cup round of 16 while Argentina in limbo

Croatia and France advanced to round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup in Russia after beating Argentina and Peru respectively, while Denmark and Australia ended their clash in a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

The Croats, coming with three points under their belt, shocked the Argentinians by a devastating 3-0 victory that sent the fate of the South Americans in the world cup into limbo.

Croatia, which secured a seat in the round of 16, opened the score in the second half, when Ante Rebic received a back pass from Argentina’s goalkeeper in 53rd minute. The Croat volleyed the ball into the top right corner.

Argentina kept the pressure and had many chances at Croatian goal but all fruitless.

Croatia’s captain Luka Mudric, named man of the match, had a spectacular right-footed curle which went far from reach of Argentina’s keeper. Gap increased to 2-0 in 80th minute.

Things got heated between the two sides and the intensity of the game increased.

Ivan Rakitic added to the agony of the Argentinian when he scored the third goal in the first minute of the stoppage time.

Croatia have six points now and Argentina only one.

“I don?’t know about shame, but I definitely feel pain,” Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli told a news conference after the match against Croatia.

“There is pain because we were not at the level of the Argentinian people expect of us,” he added.

Sampaoli said he took full responsibility for the defeat.

He said he had a plan for the match but “if I had set things up differently, things might have turned out much better.” Argentina pinned high hopes on their star Lionel Messi who did not seem in harmony with the rest of the team.

“I think because of the reality of the Argentinian squad, it clouds Leo’s brilliance. Leo is limited because the team doesn’t get ideally with him as it should,” explained Sampaoli, who refused to put the blame on his goalkeeper for his mistake which costed the team the first goal.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said the team qualified for the round of 16 after two games only.

“We have beaten Argentina with thei best player in the world – Messi – and we played a fanstantic match, everything was top notch,” he said.

However Zlakto was caution against celebrating early in the tournament, as the competition was expected to be only tougher.

“We have to be calm, humble, dignified, put in a good shift in a disciplined and responsible manner and as a team,” he said.

“I want my 22nd player in the squad to be as good as my first. Hunger and desire for victory: this is the only way we can achieve something,” said Zlakto.

Argentina will be playing Nigeria in their final group match.

France has six points now following their 1-0 victory over Peru.

France took the lead when Kylian Mbappe put the ball in the net before Peru’s goalkeeper got to it in the 34th minute of the match.

The South American team looked they could have scored at any moment, putting pressure on the French team throughout the second half from all sides of the field, but France did some excellent defending.

Despite Peru’s aggressive attacks, it wasn’t able to gain any points.

The result of the match eliminates Peru from the competition, despite their great efforts. The team was not able to gain any points to keep it in the fight.

France will be facing Denmark next without any worries.

France are unbeaten in their past seven World Cup matches against the South American teams in a run that spans 40 years.

France manager Didier Deschamps told post-game news conference, “Obviously we did what is necessary to win the second match, we had more opportunities to score in the first half, it was a bit tougher in the second period which obliges to be more coherent.” Deschamps added, “We were solid in the second half in order to get this result, which means we have reached the knockout stage, and we are very satisfied.” When asked about his team’s tactical discipline of the defence, Deschamps answered, “it doesn’t just come from the defence, the attacking players did what they had to do, they made an effort for the team to be compact and work together to link up their passes.” Ricardo Gareca, Peru’s manager, said “we were expecting a different result, but I am pleased with what the team did, we gave it our all on the pitch and in the last two matches, and we still have one more match to play, and we need to do our best for all the fans that travelled all the way here.” The second match of Group C today was Australia equalizing 1-1 against Denmark.

The game opening goal came in the seventh minute after a spectacular assist by Nicolai Jorgensen to Christian Eriksen with a powerful shot into the net, giving Denmark the lead.

In the 38th minute, the VAR’s review ruled a penalty for Australia after Yussuf Poulsen’s handball was spotted in the penalty area, to give Australia the equaliser that Mile Jedinak took to score his first goal in Russia 2018.

A match draw goes in favour of the Danish team as they stand on top of Group C with four points.

Denmarks manager Age Hareide saw his players lose energy in the restless match when he said, “My players looked tired. You could see them tiring as the match went on. We tried to get our substitutes on to inject some, but our game was restless.” Hareide added, “We lost the ball too often, faced too many counter-attacks and had to do too much running. Australia are a good side good side, well organized, and France were lucky to beat them 2-1. So we knew it was going to be tough.” Bert Van Marwijk, Australias manager, gave his take on the match saying, “beside the first 15 minutes we played very well, and had chances to win and deserved to win. It’s like against France; I’m disappointed and proud.” Van Marwijk added, “In the first 15 minutes we were restless then we started to play football and had confidence with the ball. From then on, we controlled big parts of the game. In the first half there weren’t many chances, but in the second half we did very well and created chances, and it’s an unbelievable pity that we didn’t score.”

Source: Kuwait News Agency