Croatia win Group D after 2-1 win against Iceland

Ivan Perisic of Croatia celebrates with teammates | Getty Images

Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic scored in the second half for Croatia, who secured their place in the knockout stages with a 2-1 victory over Iceland at the Rostov Arena.

Badelj scored in the 53rd minute and Perisic wrapped it up in the 90th for Croatia, who won all three of their Group D games and will face Denmark in the round of 16.

Also moving on were Argentina, who defeated Nigeria 2-1 in the other game. That meant it was the end of the road for Iceland, who were tipped to follow up on their surprising success at Euro 2016 but instead failed to win either of their final two group-stage games after an opening draw against Argentina.

And while Iceland returned to the 4-5-1 that worked against Argentina, they failed to challenge through much of the first half, with Croatia retaining 75 percent possession over the first 30 minutes.

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It wasn’t until late in the half that Iceland began to threaten, with a series of throw-ins, corners and free kicks challenging Croatia’s defence.

Alfred Finnbogason missed wide in the 40th minute after his own takeaway, Emil Hallfredsson skied it over the crossbar from 33 yards four minutes later and seconds from the half-time whistle, Aron Gunnarsson’s attempt from 20 yards was batted away by goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.

Croatia showed none of that lethargy to start the second half, however, and it was in the 53rd minute when Badelj broke through.

After a scramble in the mixer and, with the ball skipping off the heel of Sverrir Ingason, the midfielder swatted at the ball waist-high and blasted it past goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson for his second international goal and first since 2011.

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

Though they appeared deflated in the ensuing minutes, Sigurdsson was rewarded in the 75th minute with referee Antonio Mateu awarding Iceland a penalty for a handball on substitute Dejan Lovren.

Sigurdsson, who missed a penalty over the crossbar in the 83rd minute of the 2-0 loss to Nigeria on Friday, launched another attempt high — though this one tucked just under the bar, out of the reach of Kalinic, to level the score.

Croatia continued to threaten, however, with Iceland starting to appear fatigued, and Perisic finished off Croatia’s win in the 90th minute, scoring left-footed from 12 yards to secure the victory.

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