Croatia Crushes Iceland’s World Cup Dream
Croatia completed a perfect three-for-three first round and eliminated Iceland from the World Cup with a 2-1 victory in Rostov on Tuesday.
Croatia had already clinched advancement but nailed down victory in the group and a date with Denmark on Sunday in the round of 16.
Croatia rolled out a lineup without many of its stars, including Luka Modric, but scored first in the 53rd minute when Milan Badelj pounced on a loose ball in the box and punched it home.
Iceland got some hope 20 minutes later, winning a penalty that was converted by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
When Argentina took a 2-1 lead in the other game, Iceland suddenly had an opportunity to steal a qualifying spot, if it could score. But Croatia, now with Modric on the pitch as a substitute, effectively killed off the game, then added the winning goal in injury time through Ivan Perisic.
Iceland leaves the World Cup with just 1 point but can take some consolation in being the first team to score on Croatia.
Here’s how Croatia beat Iceland:
GAME OVER: Iceland Eliminated
Croatia completed a perfect 3-for-3 first round and eliminated Iceland with a 2-1 victory in Rostov on Tuesday. Croatia advances to play Denmark in the round of 16.
90’: GOAL CROATIA!
Croatia buries Iceland! A turnover by a thin-at-the-back Iceland leads to an easy break and a goal by Perisic.
88’: Other Game: Argentina Scores Again
Argentina scores in the other game. That gives Iceland an opportunity, but it must score. And Croatia is dominating.
85’: Finnbogason Subs Out
And that’s all for Iceland striker Finnbogason. A curious substitution. Gudmundsson will replace him.
84’: More Yellow!
Yellow to Saevarsson of Croatia. The game is getting chippy.
83’: Croatia Picks Up Another Yellow
Jedvaj gets the yellow card for tripping.
83’: Iceland Feels the Heat
Increasing desperation for Iceland. They will need to score, and will be rooting for Argentina to do so as well.
81’: Sub for Croatia
Croatia turns to Rakitic as a sub.
80’: What’s at Stake
The permutations are confusing. But with Argentina and Nigeria tied at 1-1, Iceland still needs two more goals. If it wins 2-1, Nigeria will go through on goal difference.
76’: GOAL ICELAND!
A penality on Iceland in the 75th minute for a handball in the box by Lovren as he tried to block a cross gives Croatia a shot. Sigurdsson (the other one, Gylfi) takes it. And it’s in! Iceland ties it up and is back in with a chance!
73’: No Defender, Still No Goal
Bjarnason is just half a step too slow to get to a cross with no defender between him and the goal.
72’: Iceland Makes a Sub
Sigurdarson in, Sigurdsson out for iceland. Got that?
67’: Croatia Gains Momentum
After a good spell by Iceland to start the half, Croatia has had the best of it over the last 10 minutes.
64’: Another Yellow for Iceland
This time it’s Alfred Finnbogason, for roughing.
59’: Yellow Card for Hallfredsson
Iceland gets its first yellow card of the match after an aggressive challenge by Hallfredsson.
55’: Ingason Just Misses
Iceland nearly answers as Ingason’s header from just in front of goal goes over.
And then seconds later his header off a corner goes over as well.
53’: GOAL CROATIA!
Badelj pounces on a loose ball in the box and punches it home. Disaster for Iceland, who will now need at least two goals.
52’: Croatia Stopped by Crossbar
Badelj of Croatia takes a shot from deep, and it nicks the crossbar and goes over! First good chance for Croatia in a while.
49’: Can Croatia Keep it Up?
Remember that Croatia has not given up a goal in the Cup so far. That’s the defense (with a few substitutions) that Iceland is trying to crack.
47’: Sigurdsson’s Not So Sly
Sigurdsson deliberately lines up a free kick and aims it at his tall compatriots, but it goes straight to the keeper.
46’: Second Half Underway
Iceland has to get on the board, but one goal might even be enough to knock out Argentina.
Don’t Forget to Spot the Ball!
Halftime: Iceland Needs a Goal Soon
Iceland has come close to scoring a few times. With Argentina leading just 1-0 for now in the other game, Iceland is still just one goal away from qualifying for the next round.
Iceland has 6 shots to Croatia’s 4 and is playing a direct style that should lead to more opportunities. With Croatia less motivated, Iceland is far from out of it at this point.
The easy-to-spot Hallfredsson (he’s completely bald) launches one far over the net.
41’: Painful Miss for Iceland
A turnover leads to Iceland getting in the box with numbers. And the man you’d want to shoot, Finnbogason, does shoot. But his shot is just wide.
40’: Fancy for Nothin’
Modric gets some space and starts a Croatia move, but a lot of fancy footwork by Kramaric doesn’t lead to a shot.
Intensity Picks Up
37’: Croatia Isn’t Close
Perisic turns and shoots for Croatia, but it’s wide.
32’: Iceland is Hungry
Sigurdsson’s curling free kick draws a save from Kalinic. Iceland is pressing for a goal now.
29’: Shot Goes Wide
A Magnusson header in a promising position off a Gudmundsson corner goes wide.
26’: Corluka Takes One to the Face
Bjarnason of Iceland gets to the end line, but a possible promising cross is blocked by Corluka’s face.
Iceland’s Fans Are Ready
24’: Iceland Can’t Stay Cool
Croatia is dominating the possession, 71-29 percent, and playing with the calm of a team already through to the next round, while Iceland looks a little jittery.
19’: A Bloody Bjarnason Plays On
Corner to Croatia. Modric takes one at one corner, then one from the other. No good chances emerge. Bjarnason is playing on with plenty of bloody wadding jammed up his nose.
14’: Yellow Card for Pjaca
Bjarnason of Iceland takes an elbow to the face from Pjaca and is down for lengthy treatment. There’s a lot of blood coming from his nose. The Iceland fans fire up their famous Thunder Clap routine.
Pjaca gets a yellow card.
9’: Pjaca Goes Down, No Call
A scary run by Marko Pjaca of Croatia ends with him going down in the penalty box. No call.
7’: Croatia’s New Look
If you miss Croatia’s classic red and white checkerboard jerseys, take a closer look at these. They are black and deep, dark blue checkerboards.
6’: Croatia Playing Keepaway
Good ball control by Croatia in the early going, but it shows little urgency to bring the ball to net. Iceland is going to need to get some possession before it even thinks about scoring.
Croatia in black, Iceland in white.