In what Luka Modric described as “the perfect match”, he might well have scored his perfect goal. The playmaker admitted his supreme 80th-minute strike in the 3-0 win over Argentina was probably his best for the national team, and that they fully deserved their win.
Modric also played down the importance of the Willy Caballero error that led to Ante Rebic’s first goal, because Croatia had been so superior. Renowned for bringing composure to the side in matches, he said they now have to keep calm for the tournament, as he described the victory as a “kind of euphoria”.
“We know that if you are going to beat Argentina, you have to play the perfect match,” Modric said. “We are very happy with our performance, especially second half. In the first half they had more possession but we did not allow them to have all there space to create any big chances. They created some from our mistakes, but it’s normal that one of the best teams in the world will create some chances. In the first half we had three or four that were very good but we did not take them. In the second half everything went our way.”
That was never more true than the trajectory of the ball for Modric’s 80th-minute strike.
“That goal helped us a lot. We are so happy to be in the next round,” he said. “For sure it will go down as one of my favourites, certainly for the national team it is one of the best goals I have scored. For me what is most important is the victory.”
It was very different to the first goal, which saw Caballero calamitously chip the ball up for Rebic to volley into the net.
“Obviously that mistake helped us a lot, but it is only one goal you have a long time after that and you have to continue to play and we did great, and we grew in our game and scored two more goals,” he added.
Modric was finally asked whether Croatia are now contenders.
“We do not have to think about this. Now we have entered some kind of euphoria, but we have to stay calm, continue what we are doing, and stay with two feet on the floor. We must think about the next opponent and not talk about crazy things. We have to be calm. We have a great squad, a great team, and great belief about us and hopefully we will continue to play the same way.”
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