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World Cup 2018: First goal broke us emotionally, says Argentina coach

first_imgLionel Messi’s frustrating international career may be coming to an early and anti-climactic finish after Argentina’s worst loss in World Cup group play in 60 years.With Diego Maradona watching from the stands, the 2014 runners-up were routed by Croatia 3-0 Thursday. The Croats are moving on to the round of 16.Messi didn’t get a single shot off in a defeat that pushed Argentina to the brink of elimination. Messi, who turns 31 on Sunday, has never won a major title with Argentina’s senior national team despite of decade of championships with Barcelona and five player of the year awards.World Cup 2018: Croatia humiliate Argentina 3-0 to reach round of 16″He is our captain, he leads the team and we quite simply couldn’t pass to him,” Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said. “We work to give Leo the ball, but the opponent also works hard to prevent him from getting the ball.”Messi also missed a penalty kick in his team’s opening 1-1 draw against Iceland.World Cup 2018, Day 8 HighlightsArgentina, hurt by the poor play of goalkeeper Willy Caballero on Thursday, had not lost by such a large margin in the first round since a 6-1 defeat to Czechoslovakia in 1958. Caballero gained the starting role because of an injury to No. 1 keeper Sergio Romero in the run-up to the tournament.World Cup 2018: Argentina stare at elimination; France, Croatia in last 16Argentina, which has not missed the second round since failing to qualify for the 1970 World Cup, has not been eliminated. But the two-time champions need to win their next match against Nigeria on Tuesday, as well as get help from other matches.advertisementThursday’s humiliating loss came in humiliating fashion for one of football’s most storied nations.World Cup 2018: Modric reveals how Croatia kept Messi quietCaballero mangled a clearance and kicked the ball toward Croatia defender Ante Rebic, who one-timed it into the net in the 53rd minute.Caballero buried his face in his hands while a giant television screen showed Maradona doing the same.”After they scored on us, we were emotionally broken,” Sampaoli said. “I had a lot of hope. I am extremely hurt by this defeat, but I probably didn’t understand the match the way I should have.”And it got worse as Argentina crumbled, frustrated by the Croatian defense. Modric scored with a hooking shot in the 80th and Ivan Rakitic added the third in stoppage time.Croatia frustrated Argentina throughout the match and never gave Messi space to operate.”Argentina wasn’t confused. We were excellent. We beat a great Argentina with the best player in the world playing, Messi,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said.(With AP inputs)last_img read more