World Cup Daily: Argentina on brink of exit after shock defeat

Author
Jason Pine,
Section
Sport,
Publish Date
Friday, 22 June 2018, 12:03PM

Jason Pine provides all you need to know about this morning's World Cup games.

What happened overnight?
Australia kept alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds after a 1-1 draw with Denmark in Group C.

But Peru's hopes were dashed after a second consecutive 1-0 defeat, this time to France, meaning their return to World Cup action after a 36-year absence will end after their third group game.

Meantime, Croatia secured their passage to the round-of-16 with a thoroughly deserved 3-0 thumping of 2014 runners-up Argentina, who are now in real danger of exiting at the group stage after their heaviest World Cup defeat since 1958.

Heroes
The two youngest players in the tournament turned on the style.

19-year-old Kylian Mbappé scored France's winner, becoming his country's youngest ever World Cup goalscorer, as well as putting in an eye-catching 75 minutes.

The man dubbed "Donatello" by his club team-mates at PSG because of an apparent resemblance to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle of the same name has come roaring out of the blocks at this tournament, already delivering on his undoubted potential.

Fellow teen Daniel Arzani was injected into Australia's attack for the last quarter of their clash with Denmark and immediately caused problems with his close control and mazy running.

Arzani's time in the A-League seems likely to end soon with a clutch of overseas clubs eager to secure his services.

And of course, Croatia. They may have been a dark horse a week ago but they have shown themselves to be absolute contenders now and in Luka Modric, who scored a wonderful second goal, they have a truly world-class player. Croatia are going deep into this tournament.

Villains
Argentine custodian Willy Caballero produced the first real goalkeeping howler of the World Cup, mis-kicking an attempted pass straight to Croatian striker Ante Rebic, who still had some work to do, but produced a wonderful, dipping volley to score his first international goal. The 36-year-old stopper has just four caps for his country; that might be all he gets now.

And it's a day late, but Portuguese defender Pepe's theatrical and shameful dive after a light tap on the shoulder from a Moroccan opponent yesterday has been rightly labelled "pathetic" and "embarrassing". It's one of the worst and most laughable things I've seen on a football field, as he collapsed dramatically, presumably in an attempt to win a free-kick. He'll forever be remembered for this and should be right pilloried for it. Appalling.

They said what?
Peru coach Pedro Gallese: "We left everything on the field against two very tough opponents. But this does not end here, we are going to close the World Cup with the same attitude."

Australia defender Trent Sainsbury: "You Aussie supporters are unbelievable. Couple of blokes in their budgie smugglers, everyone getting involved in the singing plus the stadium was awash with green and gold jerseys. You can't imagine the lift it gives us lads."

Stat chat
Australia's last five goals in competitive matches have all been scored by skipper Mile Jedinak; four from the penalty spot and the other from a direct free-kick.

When Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was beaten by Jedinak's penalty, it ended a run of nine hours and 31 minutes without conceding at international level.

France have now kept seven consecutive clean sheets against South American opposition at the World Cup, last conceding against Brazil in 1986.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi didn't have a single touch of the ball inside the Croatian penalty area in the first half.

Did you know?
Kylian Mbappé is the first French player who was born after their victory in the 1998 tournament to score at a World Cup.

Staying and going
Russia, Uruguay, France and Croatia are confirmed in the round of 16.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Peru cannot progress.

What's next?

Brazil go searching for their first win of the tournament when they face Costa Rica at midnight (NZT).

Also in Group E, Serbia look to make it two from two when they meet Switzerland at 6am.

Sandwiched between those two games, Nigeria and Iceland play a mouth-watering Group D match at 3am.

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