A late Ivan Perisic goal ensured that Iceland failed in their attempt to reach the World Cup knockout stages for the first time as Croatia secured a win to top Group D on maximum points.
The Nordic nation knew they had to win to stand any chance of reaching the last 16 and their colourful support looked dejected in Rostov-on-Don where their side missed key chances late in the first half.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 26, 2018
Alfred Finnbogason and Birkir Bjarnason both went close before the interval but Milan Badelj stylishly slammed home for Croatia after the break.
Mateo Kovacic did not misplace a single pass during his 80 minutes on the pitch against Iceland:
• 79 attempted
• 79 completed
These Croatian centre-midfielders. 💯 pic.twitter.com/OfGAxld03n
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 26, 2018
That forced Iceland to chase the game and they hit the bar through Sverrir Ingason before Gylfi Sigurdsson won and converted a penalty to level when Dejan Lovren handballed.
In the dying minutes, with Argentina leading Nigeria 2-1 some 1,100 miles away in St Petersburg, Iceland knew a win would see them jump ahead of the South American nation in second place.
This @FIFAWorldCup has been such an epic ride. We left everything, absolutely everything, on the pitch tonight and will go out with our heads held up high. Thank you to the best supporters in the world. Thank you 🇷🇺 for such a warm welcome. #fyririsland pic.twitter.com/KrWj82LIpU
— Knattspyrnusambandið (@footballiceland) June 26, 2018
But their attacks became less frequent as Croatia took more control and Ivan Perisic – one of only two players to retain his place from the win over Argentina – fired across the keeper to win it for Croatia in injury time.
His side now face Denmark in the last 16 on Sunday, while Argentina will play France on Saturday.