Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said the disputed decision to award Argentina a penalty changed the complexion of Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal after his side lost 3-0.
Lionel Messi blasted home the opening goal from the spot after Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic collided with Julian Alvarez, who also struck twice for Argentina at Lusail Stadium.
“Everything was in our hands. We played well for half an hour and had possession. We were not a threat but did have control,” said Dalic, who claimed his side should have been awarded a corner just before the penalty.
“We conceded a goal, which was very suspicious. The situation leading to the penalty… it was a little too cheap, a bit too easy to be honest.”
“Our goalkeeper did what he did and these are the new rules,” he added. “This goal took the match in a different direction.”
Dalic also bemoaned his team’s lack of a genuine goalscorer.
Croatia created few openings of note and had only two attempts on target in the entire game.
“I congratulate Argentina on the victory,” said Dalic. “We have to pull ourselves together, raise our heads. I can’t blame the boys for anything – we are going into the fight for third place.
“We don’t have much to complain about.”
Dalic said his team created “good situations” but failed to produce clear-cut chances.
“We have prepared everything but we missed a real, genuine attacker,” he said.
“We lost the match. I have nothing to complain about regarding the boys. They gave their best during this whole tournament… It is a deserved defeat.”
A number of Croatia players have likely played their final World Cup matches including 37-year-old Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Dejan Lovren – all of whom started the 2018 final against France, which they lost 4-2.
“Perhaps this is the end of the World Cup generation for a couple of them who have reached a certain age. We’ll have to see for the 2026 World Cup,” said Dalic.
“I believe this generation will slowly finish off their career at Euro 2024.
“It’s an excellent generation who two times in a row reached the semifinals. It would have been excellent if they’d won the trophy as a crowning moment.”
Dalic, 56, said he would remain in charge until the next European Championship in Germany.
“I will continue. My contract is until 2024 and in six months we have the Nations League (finals)…. My plan and objective is to take Croatia to Euro 2024.”