The Latest: Argentina collapses vs. Croatia, could go home

June 21, 2018 GMT
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Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, reacts after missing to score during the group D match between Argentina and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, reacts after missing to score during the group D match between Argentina and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Thursday at the World Cup (all times local):

11 p.m.

Croatia has stunned Argentina 3-0 to advance to the group stage of the World Cup and leave Lionel Messi and his teammates needing help to stay alive.

The humiliating loss for one of soccer’s most storied nations began to take shape when Argentina goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero miskicked a clearance that Croatia defender Ante Rebic drove into the net in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric scored the clincher on a long drive in the 80th and Ivan Rakitic added another in stoppage time.

Croatia has a perfect six points from two games. Argentina has one with one group match to play and no longer controls its own fate.



10:46 p.m.

Luka Modric has given Croatia a 2-0 lead over Argentina at the World Cup with a blistering shot from outside the penalty area.

Modric sent his right-footed shot into the corner of the goal with 10 minutes to go in Nizhny Novgorod, setting off Croatian celebrations. Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic ran down the touchline jumping in delight.

Ivan Rakitic nearly made it 3-0 a few minutes later with a thunderous free kick off the crossbar.

The goal seems likely to have put Croatia through to the knockout stage. It also puts Argentina and Lionel Messi in danger of a disastrous group-stage exit at what could be the superstar forward’s final World Cup.

Croatia took the lead in the 53rd after Argentina goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero miskicked when trying to clear from a back pass and Ante Rebic volleyed the ball pack past him and into the goal.


10:21 p.m.

Croatia leads Argentina 1-0 early in the second half after a big blunder from Argentina goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero.

Caballero tried to clear a back pass in the 53rd minute but miskicked it and Croatia forward Ante Rebic volleyed the ball back past him and into the goal.

The keeper threw his arms out in frustration and Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli clutched his head in his hands.

Croatia will qualify for the knockout stage for the first time since 1998 if it can hang on to its lead in Nizhny Novgorod.

Lionel Messi and his fellow Argentines are having a disastrous start to the World Cup after opening with a surprise 1-1 draw with Iceland, when Messi missed a penalty. They could still advance with a loss depending on the results of the remaining matches in the group.



9:52 p.m.

Argentina has missed chances and is 0-0 with Croatia at halftime at the World Cup.

Enzo Perez had the best of the opportunities for Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod when the ball fell to him after a mix-up in the Croatian defense. He put his shot wide of the open goal.

Maximiliano Meza earlier had a goal-bound shot blocked and Marcus Acuna hit the crossbar.

Argentina needs a win to get its campaign back on track after a surprise 1-1 draw against Iceland. Croatia started by beating Nigeria 2-0.

Lionel Messi is being kept quiet by Croatia’s defense and has shown his frustration with the referee a couple of times after a few decisions went against Argentina.

Croatia can qualify for the knockout stage with a win.


9:45 p.m.

Authorities at Bogota’s international airport have found 14 replica World Cup jerseys of Colombia’s national team soaked with a total of 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of cocaine.

Investigators say an anti-narcotics agent grew suspicious when he saw the box of jerseys being sent to a small city in the Netherlands.

Officials said Thursday that the agent “observed with sadness that the shirt that has brought so much happiness to the country” was saturated with cocaine hydrochloride. Traffickers sometimes use clothes soaked in the drug and then dried to transport narcotics.

Coca production in Colombia has surged in recent years.


9:30 p.m.

An Argentina fan has been banned from attending World Cup matches after posting a sexist video in which he encouraged a Russian woman to say offensive things in Spanish.

The video shows the fan asking the young woman who didn’t understand Spanish to repeat provocative phrases.

Argentine government security official Guillermo Madero, who is in Russia, told The Associated Press that the fan “won’t be able to enter stadiums at the tournament and he won’t be able to watch World Cup matches.”

Madero had filed a formal request with Argentine authorities, which then gave the fan’s name to Russian security forces. The fan’s identification card, which supporters are required to show to enter stadiums in Russia, was then taken away from him.

A Colombian fan who posted a separate video with a female Japanese fan also had his fan ID confiscated so that he can’t attend matches.

The sexist videos are among a string of incidents in which some Latin American fans are encouraging foreign women to say offensive things in languages they don’t appear to understand.

— Associated Press writer Debora Rey reported from Moscow.


9:22 p.m.

Diego Maradona is back supporting Argentina at the World Cup — and he’s behaving, so far.

The former Argentina captain and 1986 World Cup winner held up a Lionel Messi shirt before kickoff against Croatia, kissed it and jumped up and down as fans in Nizhny Novgorod sang his name.

Maradona was accused of making a racist gesture toward South Korean fans at Argentina’s opening match in Moscow. He denied any racist intent but apologized for smoking a cigar. Smoking is banned at World Cup stadiums.


8:25 p.m.

American referee Jair Marrufo will make his World Cup debut working Saturday’s match between Belgium and Tunisia in Moscow.

Marrufo, a 41-year-old from El Paso, Texas, was on the preliminary list of referees for the 2010 World Cup and then was cut.

He was suspended for two weeks early in the 2009 by the U.S. Soccer Federation for receiving a jersey from Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco after a Major League Soccer match, and he did not work any MLS games after June 24 that year because of what the USSF said were poor performances.

Marrufo’s father, Antonio, was a referee in Mexico’s top division who was under consideration for the 1998 World Cup but wasn’t picked.

The U.S. is the only nation with two referees at the World Cup. Mark Geiger controlled Wednesday’s match between Portugal and Morocco. A 43-year-old from Beachwood, New Jersey, Geiger worked two matches during the group stage in Brazil four years ago, and then became the first American to officiate a knockout stage match: France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria.


7:53 p.m.

France has ensured progression to the knockout stage with a 1-0 win over Peru that also ended the South American team’s World Cup hopes.

Kylian Mbappe scored in the 34th minute, becoming the youngest goal scorer in France’s World Cup history.

France tops the Group C with six points, two clear of Denmark, which had a 1-1 draw with Australia. The Australians have one point, and Peru is out of contention after back-to-back 1-0 losses.

France and Denmark will meet next Tuesday, when Australia takes on Peru in the last group game.


7:48 p.m.

Some World Cup visitors are reported to have used their visa-free entry to Russia and fan identity documents as a means to seek asylum in the European Union by crossing the border to neighboring Finland.

Finnish public broadcaster YLE reported that a Nigerian citizen was detained last Friday at the Vainikkala border point, the main entry point to Finland from St. Petersburg and Moscow, after presenting a forged Brazilian passport.

Three Moroccan men were detained Sunday after illegally crossing the border in the woods near the same border post. YLE said the Nigerian citizen and Moroccans had used their World Cup IDs for visa-free entry to Russia, and that all four have sought asylum in Finland. Russia is allowing fans with FIFA credentials to visit without a visa during the tournament.

Finnish border guard spokesman Marko Saareks told YLE that “the tournament has started pretty briskly for us.” He said Finnish officials had expected a spike in asylum claims from some World Cup visitors toward the end of the tournament rather than the beginning.


7:30 p.m.

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic apparently does not want to discuss the issue of tensions linked to Swiss players with Kosovo Albanian heritage ahead of the World Cup match against Serbia.

A reporter asked Petkovic how he would discuss the issue with his players, and the coach sidestepped the question.

Speaking through an interpreter, he says: “We will tell them we had a great match against Brazil. That’s not enough; we have to play better against Serbia.”

Tensions have been building in Serbia ahead of the Switzerland match. Not between Swiss and Serbian fans, but between Albanian and Serbian supporters.

That is because several players in the Swiss squad have Kosovo Albanian roots, including midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and relations between the two countries remain tense.


7:23 p.m.

Moscow authorities are blocking three planned protest rallies because of the World Cup.

Various opposition groups had applied to hold protests July 1, 3 and 4 in various parts of the Russian capital against plans to raise the pension age.

The city government’s chief security official Vladimir Chernikov tells the Interfax news agency that all three applications were rejected “in connection with the decree” from President Vladimir Putin imposing tight security measures for the World Cup. The decree puts tight restrictions on mass gatherings during the tournament.

Chernikov says the protests would “obviously be uncomfortable and unsafe both for the city’s inhabitants and for tourists.”

Many Russians have been angered by the government’s plans to raise the men’s pension age from 60 to 65 and the women’s pension age from 55 to 63. The government announced the measure June 14, the day the World Cup opened. Officials say it’s needed to keep costs down because Russians are living longer.


7:10 p.m.

Nigeria’s 19-year-old goalkeeper Francis Uzoho is showing no signs of stage fright.

Ahead of his team’s crucial match against Iceland in Volgograd on Friday, Uzoho said the way he copes with the pressure at the World Cup is not to think about Nigeria’s goalkeeping pedigree.

The likes of Vincent Enyeama, who made 101 international appearances between 2002 and 2015, and Peter Rufai, Nigeria’s goalkeeper during the two World Cups the “Super Eagles” reached in the 1990s, are revered in their home country.

Uzoho says “I don’t let the history get to me.”

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr says the young keeper is “cool-headed” and improving all the time.

Uzoho was not meant to be Nigeria’s goalkeeper at this World Cup but was promoted after Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with leukemia and needed treatment.


6:47 p.m.

France is leading Peru 1-0 at halftime after Kylian Mbappe became the youngest World Cup scorer for France, aged 19 years and 183 days. Mbappe knocked in an Olivier Giroud shot that was deflected by a defender in the 34rd minute.

The Peru fans outnumbered the French in the arena in Yekaterinburg and their team has been using any opportunity to pressure France. 

Striker Paolo Guerrero had the best chance for Peru in the 31st after collecting a pass from Christian Cueva but France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved his low shot from close range.

Still, France appeared to be the more dangerous team. Lucas Hernandez had a shot blocked by goalkeeper Pdro Dallese late in the first half. Earlier, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba missed the target.


6:35 p.m.

France has taken a 1-0 lead over Peru after Kylian Mbappe tapped in from close range in the 34th.

France opened the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Australia, while Peru is coming off a 1-0 loss to Denmark in Group C.


6:10 p.m.

Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez is planning on deploying two players to mark Neymar on Friday but has assured the Brazil forward that they won’t rough him up.

Neymar is aiming to add to his 55 international goals for Brazil, but is tentatively feeling his way back to fitness after breaking a toe on his right foot four months ago. He limped out of a practice session earlier in the week, after appearing to hurt his right ankle, but is back training and expected to play against Costa Rica at St. Petersburg stadium.

Asked how he plans to stop Neymar, Ramirez says: “Maybe we will mark him with two men, we will see.” He quickly adds: “But of course we don’t want to see any unfair attacks on him.”

Ramirez also urged patience from Costa Rica’s fans, perhaps spoiled by the team’s achievement in reaching the quarterfinal stages four years ago.

“We know people in our country well, people in our country don’t like losing,” Ramirez said. “Sometimes we’re a little self-destructive, I fear.”


5:45 p.m.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva says his team’s attempts to combat the “white nights” in St. Petersburg ultimately proved counter-productive.

The sun hardly sets in Russia’s northernmost big city. In fact, it only starts to get dark around 10:30 p.m. and — after an inky-blue twilight — becomes light again soon after 3 a.m.

Brazil arrived on Wednesday, and Silva acknowledged he tried to take compensatory measures.

“Yesterday we stayed up a little late, having some physiotherapy,” Silva said Thursday through a translator. “At 1:30 in the morning it was getting a little late.”

Staying up too late was causing other issues.

″(We were told) to turn off (our) our cell phones, so that we could sleep,” Silva said, smiling. “If you are talking to friends back home in Brazil this will give you sleeping problems.”


5:05 p.m.

England defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says manager Gareth Southgate is yet to announce his team for the World Cup game against Panama, despite photographs circulating of a note that appeared to indicate a potential lineup.

Press photographers spotted England assistant coach Steve Holland at practice holding a note bearing a team in a 3-5-2 formation, with Marcus Rashford apparently playing in attack instead of Raheem Sterling and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in place of Dele Alli.

The Football Association hasn’t commented on the significance of the photos and Alexander-Arnold played down its significance, saying the players “haven’t been directly told who is starting and who isn’t.”

The right back says “all the positions are up for grabs. Until the manager names the team, it doesn’t matter what has come out or leaked. I know the lads don’t focus on stuff like that until it comes out of the manager’s mouth.”


4:55 p.m.

Two Russian fans have been sentenced to 10 days’ detention for swearing at police ahead of a World Cup game.

St. Petersburg city court spokeswoman Darya Lebedeva says Arseny Deryabin and Alexander Nikitin cursed at law enforcement while going through security checks at the St. Petersburg Stadium ahead of Russia’s 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday.

Court documents show they were sentenced Wednesday.


4:50 p.m.

Australia and Denmark have played out a 1-1 draw after a scoreless second half in Group C.

Christian Eriksen scored for Denmark in the 7th minute before Mile Jedinak’s equalized with a penalty in the 38th to keep Australia’s chances of progressing to the knockout stage alive.

A Jussuf Poulsen handball after video review set up Jedinak’s opportunity.

Entering the World Cup, No. 36 Australia was the lowest-ranked team in the group with the others all in the top 12. France was set to play Peru in the other Group C match later Thursday in Yekaterinburg.

With a 2-1 loss to the French in the opener, another loss for Australia would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance to the next stage. Denmark has four points after opening with a 1-0 win over Peru.


4:15 p.m.

Russian authorities have made apparently conflicting claims about whether part of the Luzhniki stadium’s fire-detection equipment could have interfered with the goal-line technology system.

The Russian state telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, says it found malfunctions with four pieces of equipment Wednesday but “there was and is no threat to the system of goal detection at Luzhniki.”

However, Russian media reported a statement earlier Thursday from the same regulator, saying the equipment was operating on the same frequencies as the GoalControl system and could have interfered with it. The first statement has been removed from Roskomnadzor’s website.

FIFA and GoalControl didn’t respond to requests for comment. The system hasn’t been required in three games so far at Luzhniki.

It’s the second time the World Cup has used the technology, which uses seven cameras to determine whether the ball has crossed the line.


3:48 p.m.

It is 1-1 at halftime after Australia captain Jedinak equalized from the penalty spot in the 39th minute to counter an early Denmark goal.

Christian Eriksen scored from close range in the 7th minute to give Demark a 1-0 lead. Jedinak’s penalty came after video replay determined a hand ball in the box for Denmark’s Yussuf Poulsen — a call that the Danish players pleaded against.

The match was considered a must-win for Australia, the lowest-ranked team in Group C. The Socceroos dropped their opener 2-1 to France — Jedinak also scored from the spot in that game. Denmark is coming off a 1-0 victory over Peru in its opener. 


3:39 p.m.

Australia captain Mile Jedinak has equalized in the 38th minute against Denmark after converting a penalty that was awarded after a video review. It’s 1-1.

Yussuf Poulsen handled the ball when he went up to challenge for a header in the area and referee Antonio Mateu awarded the penalty after reviewing a replay on a sideline monitor.

Jedinak, who also scored from the spot in Australia’s opening 2-1 loss to France, calmly slotted the penalty kick after sending Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way.


3:15 p.m.

Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson has revealed that winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson isn’t expected to recover in time to play against Nigeria at the World Cup.

Gudmundsson tore his calf muscle in Iceland’s surprising 1-1 draw against Argentina last Saturday.

Hallgrimsson tells a news conference he was “not going to hide” the fact that Berg Gudmundsson is unlikely to recover in time, and says there’ll “definitely” be changes in the lineup.

Hallgrimsson said it was always his intention to alter the team in light of the different threat posed by Nigeria.

If Nigeria loses it will be out, having already lost its opening Group D match against Croatia 2-0.


3:07 p.m.

Christian Eriksen has given Denmark a 1-0 lead in the 7th minute of the World Cup Group C game against Australia.

Nicolai Jorgensen had two controlled touches to create a scoring chance with well-timed pass and Eriksen finished off with a left-foot shot from close range.


2:55 p.m.

FIFA says it condemns claims by a Morocco player that American referee Mark Geiger asked for a player’s shirt during Portugal’s 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Geiger denied the allegation to FIFA, which says the referee behaved in an “exemplary and professional manner.”

The claim was made by Morocco player Noureddine Amrabat in a post-game interview with Netherlands public broadcaster NOS.

Amrabat said Portugal defender Pepe told him the referee had asked for his shirt during the first half.

The Morocco player told NOS: “This is the World Cup, it’s not a circus.”

Some media wrongly reported Amrabat as saying Pepe told him Geiger had asked for Ronaldo’s shirt.

FIFA responded by saying it learned of reports of the allegation with “regret and disappointment.”


1:30 p.m.

Defender Thiago Silva will be Brazil’s captain in Friday’s match against Costa Rica.

Veteran left back Marcelo wore the arm band in the 1-1 opening draw against Switzerland but coach Tite decided before the World Cup that he would rotate the team’s captaincy.

Silva was Brazil’s captain at the World Cup in 2014, when he was criticized for breaking down before a penalty shootout in the round of 16.

Silva had already captained Brazil in a friendly against Argentina a year ago, when the “Selecao” lost 1-0 for its only setback under Tite.

Neymar took over the captaincy from Silva following the team’s disappointing elimination in the 2014 World Cup at home.

The player who captained Brazil the most under Tite was Daniel Alves, who missed the Russia World Cup because of a knee injury.


12:35 p.m.

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he met Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and talked about the Russia team’s good start to the World Cup.

Blatter went to see Russia’s president after attending Portugal’s 1-0 win over Morocco in Moscow on Wednesday.

Blatter says “we had small talks. We spoke about football and the good start of the competition, the good start of the team.” Russia has qualified for the round of 16.

The 82-year-old Blatter is serving a six-year ban from official football duty until October 2021 for financial misconduct during this 17-year rule. The terms of the ban meant Blatter was kept separate from successor Gianni Infantino and other football officials at Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.

Fulfilling a long-standing personal invitation from Putin to attend the World Cup, Blatter will travel to St. Petersburg to see Brazil play Costa Rica on Friday.

Blatter says it was “respectful” to be invited to Russia and the Kremlin despite being suspended from football.


11:40 a.m.

Dele Alli has missed England’s practice session because of a thigh injury, putting him in doubt for the team’s second group game against Panama at the World Cup.

The midfielder was hurt during England’s 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday and was taken off in the second half.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the likely replacement if Alli misses out.