A nightmare. That was the game against Croatia for Argentina, who were unable to find their rhythm and paid a high price for Willy Caballero's mistake. With this result, the chances of advancing to the next round are incredibly slim.

It's the first time that Croatia have progressed past the World Cup group stages since their third-placed debut in 1998. This performance had echoes of that team, insofar as they beat a world football heavyweight 3-0, as they did against Germany in the France 1998 quarter-finals.

Luka Modric, Budweiser Man of the Match
"The most important objective has been realised. We’ve got to take it game by game, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This win will boost our confidence for the coming games. It’s going to be tough but let’s avoid euphoria, give it a wide berth and keep our feet firmly on the ground to prepare for the next matches."

"In the end our victory looks easy but it wasn’t that easy. I think the win was fully deserved, but it wasn’t easy. That first goal, in the second half, followed a mistake. It was a shot in the arm for us - we played a perfect game and you need a perfect game to beat such a great team. We cut off Messi, stopped him receiving the ball, he’s their most dangerous player."

Argentina failure to test the Croatian keeper, Danijel Subasic in the opening period means this is the third time in four World Cups that Argentina have not managed to produce a single shot on target in the first half of a World Cup match. 

They also did so in their quarter-final against Germany in 2006 (eliminated after penalties) and the 2014 final against Germany (1-0 defeat after extra time).

Even with the presence of the Argentina and Barcelona talisman in the game, who played the second game of the 2018 World Cup looking for a measure of redemption after missing a penalty against Iceland that contributed to a disappointing 1-1 draw in his team’s opening game, Argentina still ended up woefully beaten to a dry.

The disappointed Argentina coach who left the pitch in tears and swiftly had this to say.

Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina coach
"I had to devise a plan for this match. If I had set things up differently, things might have turned out much better. I don’t think it’s realistic to put the burden on Caballero [for his mistake].

"I think because of the reality of the Argentinian squad, it clouds Leo’s brilliance. Leo is limited because the team doesn’t gel ideally with him as it should. As coaches we need to realise these things and try to deal with them and I’m the one that needs to accept it."

The Croatian side played with so much determination to deny Messi and his teammates opportunities to gain a comfortable position in the World cup group stage. Messi was simply not afforded much in the way of opportunities to do much for Argentina.

Can Croatia kick the CONMEBOL ( The South American Football Confederation)curse?
Vatreni have been defeated in each of their four World Cup meetings with South American sides before tonight. Their only goal in those four games was Marcelo's own goal in the Brazil 2014 Opening Match. Tonight, Croatia broke the CONMEBOL curse with a stunning shocking 3-0 victory over the great Argentina.

Zlatko Dalic, Croatia coach
"From day one I’ve trusted my team. I didn’t believe we would be through after the second game, but I believed we would be through eventually. Argentina weren’t confused, we were excellent.

"We’ve emerged from the group after two games. We’ve beaten Argentina with the best player in the world – Messi - and we played a fantastic match, everything was top notch. However, we have to be calm, humble, dignified, put in a good shift in a disciplined and responsible manner and as a team. 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. No one is happier than I am but I have to be calm, composed and keep my feet on the ground."