Iceland eliminated despite spirited display in loss to Croatia in Rostov

Croatia winger Ante Rebic celebrates scoring against Argentina

Croatia winger Ante Rebic celebrates scoring against Argentina

A Nigeria win would send the Icelanders and Argentinians both home.

A revamped but businesslike Croatia topped their World Cup group as Ivan Perisic's 90th-minute goal helped them maintain their flawless record with a 2-1 win on Tuesday that also ended Iceland's qualification hopes. Gylfi Sigurdsson levelled with a penalty but Ivan Perisic grabbed a last-gasp victor. They finish three behind Argentina, who can plan for France, and behind group winners Croatia, who take a ideal record to meet Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday. In the 29th minute Iceland went close when Magnusson's header went wide, then two minutes later keeper Lovre Kalinic saved Sigurdsson's free kick.

After a couple of half chances, Iceland drew level in the 74th minute when they were awarded a penalty after was adjudged to have handled in the box.

Soon after the break the match turned when Fiorentina midfielder Badelj first clipped the bar with a long-range drive, then made no mistake soon after on 53 minutes.

Iceland challenged almost immediately, with a first headers by Ingason tipped over the crossbar by Kalinic and a second glancing off of it.

Iceland know they need to win and they need goals.

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This team has lost the past three finals they have played - the 2014 World Cup and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016. Even victory could see them exit the tournament if Iceland beat Croatia by enough goals.

Perisic, with Luka Modric the only player not rested, struck in the last minute to set up a round-of-16 game against Denmark after Milan Badelj's second-half goal was cancelled out by Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty.

Iceland and Croatia have crossed paths plenty in recent years.

Iceland, who had a handful of good chances, were tipped to surprise at the World Cup after their finish at Euro 2016 but finish last in the group with one point.

It's around this time, on the eve of the knockout stages, that theories are being formulated for who will impress moving on at the World Cup, and though England have garnered attention, it's Croatia who are the real lurkers in Russian Federation.

Croatia lost 1-0 to Iceland in a World Cup qualifier and had to go through the playoffs to reach the finals so they will be taking nothing for granted despite speculation that coach Zlatko Dalic could field a second-string team.

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