Croatia will leave the World Cup with no complaints and their heads held high after being beaten 3-0 by Argentina in the semifinals, Coach ZlatkoDalic said.
A Lionel Messi penalty and two goals by Julian Alvarez sent Argentina through at the expense of the 2018 runners-up and Dalic said his team had suffered a “deserved defeat.”
“I congratulate Argentina on reaching the final,” the 56-year-old said. “All we can do is pull ourselves together, raise our heads and go to the match for third place.
“Sometimes, luck favours you, sometimes not. That’s the way it is.
“We have nothing to complain about.”
Croatia had the lion’s share of possession but just two shots on target, neither of which unduly troubled Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Dalic was left to rue his team’s lack of cutting edge.
“We had a lot of good situations, but we weren’t mobile,” he added. “Especially in the attacking phase, we weren’t concrete. We lacked that one real attacker to break through. We didn’t do it.
“We know what we are and what we’re not. That’s it.
“When we conceded the third goal, it was really difficult to come back. It was a deserved defeat.
“If someone had offered us this before the World Cup, we would have accepted it; this is a great success for the Croatian national team and we are proud.”
Croatia pushed through its quarter-final match against five-time world champions and tournament favourites Brazil, and their reward was another trip to the semi-finals after winning 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw during regular time.
The Croats already needed a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals against Japan which they won 3-1.
A closely-fought contest came down to extra-time, and when neither side found the winning goal in those 30 minutes, the game went to penalties.
Dominik Livaković, again, was the hero for his side, saving three of Japan’s four penalities – paving the way for Croatia to progress to the last eight after they converted three of their four spot kicks.
With Captain Luka Modric at the forefront of their squad, the runners-up from Russia 2018, had secured their place in the knockout rounds with a final group game draw against Belgium.
It was their second draw of the group stages, having been held by Morocco in their first outing in Qatar. But a 4-1 thumping of Canada to register their first win of the tournament was enough to see them through. – Reuters