It was the game which left Argentina’s World Cup hopes hanging by a thread, but the scoreline was only half the story.
Croatia’s 3-0 win over the two-time winners was branded the most ill-tempered World Cup game so far by social media users.
As Argentina capitulated in the last 10 minutes, both sides launched into ferocious challenges which saw the game end with seven yellow cards.
There were a whopping 38 fouls in the Group D clash, with the South Americans singled out for their rough treatment by viewers on Twitter.
Croatia defender Sime Vrsaljko, meanwhile, accused Argentina of acting like ‘crying little girls’ after the match.
Tempers boiled over in Nizhny Novgorod in the closing stages when Javier Mascherano lunged in on Ivan Rakitic – before Nicolas Otamendi then kicked the ball at him as he lay on the floor.
Think this might be the dirtiest game I’ve seen for some time. #ARGCRO
— Jon Charlie (@fleethebees) June 21, 2018
This has gotta be the dirtiest game of the World Cup so far #ArgCro
— Ebony Maw (@Dom_Dawkins) June 21, 2018
This is one of the most dirtiest games I’ve seen in a long while! #ARGCRO
— Connor Brosnan (@ConnorBrosnan) June 21, 2018
The ensuing melee saw the Man City defender booked – with fans left amazed nobody was sent off.
Croatia were far from blameless themselves during the hot-headed encounter, and actually committed more fouls (22) than Argentina during the match (16).
Argentina appeared to be enraged in the first half when Ante Rebic appeared to stamp on Eduardo Salvio’s ankle.
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Just an amazing second half. Complete Argentina meltdown, some filthy fouls that surprisingly escaped a red card. Brilliant drama #ARGCRO
— World Cup Jamie (@Not_James_Brown) June 22, 2018
Absolutely deserved by Croatia. Filthy fouls and dives from Argentina and 3 amazing goals from Croatia. One of the best teams in the world? Not any more#ARGCRO
— Joseph Muldoon-Hall (@Muldoon_Hall) June 21, 2018
Jorge Sampaoli demanded a VAR review of the challenge, but the Croatian received only a yellow card.
Rebic went on to open the scoring for Croatia, capitalising on a Willy Caballero blunder to volley home eight minutes into the second half.
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The Croats also had Mario Mandzukic, Some Vrsaljk and Marcelo Brozovic booked, while Otamendi, Gabriel Mercado and Marcos Acuna saw yellow for the Argentines.
Argentina now face an early exit from the World Cup, and need to beat Nigeria in their final game to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16.