Fans in Novgorod Russia watched in horror as Croatia hammered a very poor Argentina 3-0 on a cold Thursday night.
It was Argentina’s heaviest defeat in the preliminaries in 60 years – precisely in Sweden.
Despite having a team worth over $500 million on the pitch including Lionel Messi, Argentina were simply swept away by a Croatian side that simply waited and struck.
After a first half that was really poor, Willy Caballero attempted to give a shocker of a pass to a defender, but rather teed the ball straight up for Ante Rebic to volley into the net in the 53rd minute.
Down by a goal and sensing the looming tragedy coach Jorge Sampaoli took off his jacket and also took off Sergio Aguero for Higuain and Pavon in a bid to revive a clearly ageing under-performing Argentina.
Captain Lionel Messi was simply a passenger and could not bring to bear his heroics for Barcelona football fans the world over have become accustomed to.
Sensing their chance, Croatia held firm and it did not take long for midfield maestro Luka Modric to weave his way through a defence that was in twos-and-sevens to whip an exquisite curler past the outstretched hands of Caballero in the 80th minute to send a dagger into the hearts of Argentine fans.
Argentina poured forward to salvage national pride and paid the price.
Ivan Rakitic was set free in the dying minutes and fired a shot Caballero saved, but it fell right to Kovacic, who played it back to Rakitic for the easy tap-in for the third goal in the 93rd minute.
The 3-0 bashing is good news for Nigeria, who must now summon all within its powers to beat Iceland on Friday, then get set for a do-or-die clash with an already wounded Argentina.
Croatia are all but through to the second round for the first time in 20 years.
Another big shocker in the world cup!