A howler from Argentina’s Willy Caballero gifted Croatia a 1-0 second-half lead in their World Cup clash on Thursday — the latest in a string of goalkeeping errors in big matches.
The Chelsea stopper attempted a chipped pass over Ante Rebic from inside his own area, but totally underhit his effort and the Croatia winger fired an unstoppable volley into the roof of the net.
The World Cup in Russia has already seen some questionable goalkeeping, including a poor performance from Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf in a 5-0 thumping by Russia on the opening day.
David De Gea, regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in the world, also had a moment to forget when he allowed a Cristiano Ronaldo shot to slip through his grasp in Spain’s 3-3 draw with Portugal.
Liverpool’s Loris Karius made two embarrassing blunders in last month’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.
Caballero is only starting for Argentina because Manchester United’s Sergio Romero is missing the tournament through injury.
Argentina sink to 60-year-low
Lionel Messi hoped to lead Argentina to a memorable World Cup. But while Argentina’s game against Croatia may have been unforgettable, receiving the worst beating the nation has taken in a first-round group-stage match in 60 years was not what they had in mind.
Croatia put in a strong performance, breaking through after both sides squandered first-half chances, and came away with a convincing 3-0 victory over the Albiceleste in the second game of Group D play on Thursday.
It was an ugly performance all around for Argentina, as they struggled to get their stars, Messi and Sergio Aguero into the proceedings.
Argentina did have an opportunity to get off on the right foot a half hour in, but Enzo Perez missed a clear-cut chance on a near-open goal with the game still scoreless.
Then in the second half, Ante Rebic took advantage of a horrible mistake by Argentina keeper Willy Caballero to open the scoring for Croatia. A Luke Modric rocket from distance doubled their advantage.
Ivan Rakitic’s goal to close out the scoring added insult to injury, as Argentina had not suffered a defeat so heavy in the group stage of a World Cup since the 1958 edition, when they were hammered 6-1 by Czechoslovakia.
Meanwhile, Argentina have not won their last four World Cup matches – the first time in their history that has occurred.
Aside from the loss to Croatia and an opening-game draw against Iceland, Argentina lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in extra time. In addition, though they did get past the Netherlands in the semi-final of the tournament in Brazil, it came through a shootout after a scoreless 120 minutes.
The heavy defeat puts Argentina in a difficult spot when it comes to qualifying for the knockout stages, though advancement is still possible.
Argentina will require a win against Nigeria, combined with results elsewhere, if they have any hope of salvaging their 2018 World Cup dream.