Coverage of Group D matches during the 2018
World Cup Finals in Russia between
Host Cities - Visit Russia.
Group D Games
Saturday, 16th June
in Moscow Spartak
Argentina started by
playing the ball around to get a feel for
the roll of the grass; while frustrating
Iceland into chasing shadows.
Messi then signalled for
a new ball, before taking a free-kick.
But it wasn't all
one-way traffic, as Iceland came close to
taking the lead; with less than ten minutes
on the clock.
Five minutes later,
Iceland were again weaving themselves in and
around the Argentina penalty area.
A little chance for Sergio Aguero was all
Argentina needed; and the ball was in the
back of the net, quicker than the Iceland
fans could finish a thunderclap.
Within five minutes, Iceland were level.
Willy Caballero palmed one shot away, only
A first World Cup goal
for Aguero and a World Cup first for Iceland
Half-time: Argentina 1 -
Iceland looked dangerous
at the start of the second-half but failed
to make their attacking raids count.
A tangle of legs, in the 63rd minute, resulted in a
penalty decision for Argentina; although on closer inspection, the
referee might have had to overule VAR.
Messi stepped up to take the penalty; but fillm
director Hannes Thor Halldorsson hadn't read the script, and gave
himself the starring role; correctly diving to his right, to make a
double handed save.
Iceland held off Argentina's frantic push forward in
the final minutes; even a last effort, Messi free-kick was thwarted by
the Icelandic wall.
VAR aside, Iceland thoroughly deserved their first
World Cup Finals point; and Messi will have to prove himself better than
Ronaldo, another day.
Russia's little enclave
on the Baltic Sea has the smallest arena of
all the host cities in the 2018 World Cup.
There was little to divide the two sides in the
first half-hour and it took a set piece to finally break the deadlock.
Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic both
flicked Luca Modric's 32nd minute corner on, before Oghenekaro Etebo
turned the ball into his own net.
Croatia 1 -
Croatia doubled their lead after William
Troost-Ekong brought down Mandzukic in the area, and captain Modric
stepped up to convert the 71st-minute penalty.
No goal from open play in Kaliningrad, but Croatia
ended the game on top of the group.
Thursday, 21st June
in Nizhny Novgorod
Messi vs Modric; if you believe the hype.
In reality, Ivan Perisic was the first to test Willy Caballero in the
For a good twenty five minutes, Croatia seemed to have the upper hand.
Then in the 27th minute, it was Sergio Aguero down the left for
Argentina. Ensuing corner wasted.
A couple of minutes later and the Croatia defence was all over the
place. Lucky for the Europeans, Enzo Perez shot wide of their empty
A few minutes later, Mario Mandzukic headed wide at the other end.
Argentina 0 -
Yet another defensive mistake - and Argentina were made to pay in the 53rd minute. Willy Caballero
mistimed his kick on a back pass from Gabriel Mercado and chipped the
ball high. Ante Rebic, eyes totally on the ball, volleyed the ball back,
past the hapless Caballero.
Lionel Messi did not look happy; Luca Modric all smiles.
Messi tried to run through the wall of Croatian black shirts in the 62nd
minute; Maradona it wasn't.
A minute later and Danijel Subasic was all knees to deny Meza and Messi
in a goalmouth scramble; helped by Rakitic.
How a goal can add a sudden urgency to a game. Then Argentine nerves
started to frazzle and players were kicked more than the ball.
Sensing a lack of team spirit in the Argentina camp, Croatia pushed on.
Ten minutes from time, Luca Modric called
for the ball in the middle; touched it right; dummied to the left;
pulled his body back to the right; and watched as the ball curled around
Tagliafico on the rise, then dipped low to Caballero's left.
A fine save by Caballero was only palmed
to the black shirt of Mateo Kovacic. The ball was squared back to Rakitic, who just had to
choose his spot.
Croatia through to the Second Round. Argentina in trouble.
Friday, 22nd June
Time for some long throws, viking hats, and
thunderclaps. Nigerian fans watch on with bemusement.
Other than that, not much doing; although Nigeria
looked in danger just before the break.
This is the twelfth game to end goaless at
Nigeria 0 -
Nigeria started a little more positive in the
Within four minutes of the re-start, the
West Africans were in front. A quick break out of defence and Victor
Moses was racing down the right. A cross in to Ahmed Musa, who flicked
the ball up to bring it under control then hit it past Hannes
Halldorsson on the half-volley.
Ragnar Sigurdsson received a knock on the head, as
Musa turned to celebrate.
Musa hit the crossbar in the 74th minute; Iceland
thawing out completely.
Within a minute, Ahmed Musa was back with a
great solo effort running down the left with the ball at speed, and
rounding Halldorsson with ease; before taking another touch just to pick
Referee made a visit to the monitor and gave a
penalty to Iceland. But the normally ice cool Gylfi Sigurdsson took too
long trying to get his mind right and melted under the pressure of a
nation in the 83rd minute.
Croatia are through but the second qualificion spot
from Group D is all to play for.
Tuesday, 26th June
Milan Badelj opened the
scoring for Croatia in the 53rd minute only
for Gylfi Sigurdsson to reply for Iceland,
from the penalty spot, in the 76th minute.
A draw wouldn't have been enough for Iceland, then
Ivan Perisic made it three out of three for Croatia in the last minute
of normal time.
in St Petersburg
The whole of Argentina
breathed a sigh of relief and Diego Maradona
demonstrated how much he prayed from the
stands when Lionel Messi opened his 2018
World Cup account within the first fifteen
minutes of this crucial game against
Nigeria were back in the game with a Victor Moses
penalty just after the break but Marcos Rojo gave Argentina plenty to
cheer about just before the final whistle; another four minutes without
scoring and Argentina would have been flying home.
Saturday, 30th June
France vs Argentina
Messi failed to score in a World Cup Finals knockout
Sunday, 1st July
Croatia vs Denmark
Denmark were ahead from a long throw-in,
inside the first minute; as Mathias
Jorgensen's shot seemed to go in off the arm
of floored goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic.
Croatia were right back in the game, with
just four minutes on the clock; Mario
Mandzukic making no mistake, when the chance
fell at his feet.
Two scrappy goals in a furious first five
minutes and then the game stuttered towards
extra-time and penalties; two European teams
cancelling each other out.
Corner in; header out; swift return towards
the goal; keeper punts it back upfield.
Long throw; long boot out; back to
goalkeeper. Of nineteen shots towards the
opposition's goal, only five were on target
in ninety minutes.
Thirty Minutes of Extra-Time.
A fourth substitution is now allowed in
extra-time. Something needed to change.
Russian fans watching this must be fancying
their chances in the quarter-finals.
The Croatian genius finally split the two
full-backs with a perfect through ball for
Ante Rebic to cruise in on goal.
Having rounded the goalkeeper, Mathias
Jorgensen tackled Rebic from behind and a
penalty was given.
Kasper Schmeichel saved the penalty from
Luca Modric, with 26 minutes of extra-time
on the clock to add another dramatic twist
to Russia 2018.
PENALTIES - On The Spot.
The two goalkeepers, Danijel Subasic and
Kasper Schmeichel, stood in the middle and
had a few light-hearted words before getting
down to business.
Kasper Schmeichel saved two penalties in the
shootout, but Danijel Subasic saved three
Saturday, 7th July
in Sochi (2:2aet
The match started positively.
A lively half-hour of football was crowned
by a wonder strike from Denis Cheryshev; his left-foot screamer struck
the back of the net to send the home fans wild. If the atmosphere was
loud, it just got louder.
Eight minutes later the crowd was silenced, as Mario Mandzukic served
the ball up for Andrej Kramaric to head Croatia level.
Half-time: Russia 1 - Croatia 1
Both teams needed to dig deep and find something
On the hour, Ivan Perisic saw his shot bounce back
off the inside of the post then heard the Russian hearts beat again.
Perisic was then replaced by Marcelo Brozovic.
Denis Cheryshev soon followed; with Fedor Smolov
taking his place.
Extra Time - Another tiring thirty minutes.
Danijel Subasic looked in trouble just before the
ninetieth minute and when an extra substitution became available in
extra-time, the Croatia goalkeeper elected to continue.
Many Russian players looked shattered and needed
work on tired legs.
Eleven minutes into extra-time, Domagoj Vida headed in a Luca Modric
corner to give Croatia hope of making the semi-finals for the first time
since France 98.
The Croatian president, Madam Kolinda
Grabar-Kitarovic looked rather ridiculous dancing with joy while the
FIFA President and Russian Prime Minister sat diplomatically.
Into the second period of extra-time and Subasic had
to make a double save from Alan Dzagoev's corner; eventually holding the
ball to his chest from Daler Kuzyayev.
The whole of Russia held their breath and prayed in the 25th minute of
extra-time when Alan Dzagoev floated in a free-kick from the right.
Brazilian-born, Marion Fernandes rose highest to head Russia level.
Penalty Time Again.
Subabasic and Akinfeev
both made penalty saves; then Marion
Fernandes sent his spot kick wide; and Luca
Modric saw his shot saved on to the post and
then bounce in the net.
Croatia pulled it off by four penalties to three.
Wednesday, 11th July
Croatia vs England
The big test for both teams; the winner to play
France in the 2018
World Cup Final.
Although the game looked like it started slowly, England were ahead
inside five minutes, after Croatia conceded a free-kick just outside the
penalty area; Dele Alli taking the tumble at the feet of Luka Modric.
Kieran Trippier took the free-kick, lifting
the ball over the wall with pace; then then it curled and dipped just
under the bar, to leave Danijel Subasic stranded.
England continued to attack in search of a second goal. On the
half-hour, Harry Kane really should have added to his goal tally;
hitting a shot straight at Subasic while trying to put some curl on the
Then Croatia applied some sustained pressure of their own; with an extra
added scare just before the whistle.
Half-time: Croatia 0 - England 1
Shaky moments for England at the start of the second-half as a
collective defensive effort was needed to block and stop Croatia's push
for an equaliser.
It was a long time since the first goal was scored and Croatia sensed
they had a chance to get back in the game.
Then it came. A switch of play out to the
right, a cross from Sime Vrsaljko in to the box and Ivan Perisic lifted
his boot high to meet the ball and stab it home.
Perisic then hit the post some four minutes later.
England started to look like the rubber chickens they played around with
in training and Croatia sought to take advantage of the role changing.
England brought on Markus Rashford for Raheem Sterling in the 74th
Jordan Pickford had to work overtime to keep England on course for
England required a free-kick or corner; but to earn one, they needed to
be in and around the Croatian area.
Thirty Minutes of Trial and Tribulation.
Danny Rose on for Ashley Young.
Corner for England in the ninth minute of extra-time. Trippier's ball
was headed goalwards by John Stones; then headed off the line by Sime
Then Jordan Pickford had to be alert to get his foot in on the ball as
Mario Mandzukic tried to attack the leather with the same intent.
Mario Mandzukic replied a few minutes later
by putting the ball past the England goalkeeper after Ivan Perisic
headed the ball forward.
The usual time wasting followed, but England can't complain; they had
plenty of time to make a place in the Final theirs.
Sunday, 15th July:
2018 World Cup Final
France vs Croatia
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