NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia - Captain Luka Modric hailed his Croatia side's "deserved" 3-0 victory over Argentina on Thursday but called on them to keep their feet on the ground after qualifying for the World Cup knockout rounds.
Zlatko Dalic's men outclassed their opponents in Nizhny Novgorod, leaving Lionel Messi and two-time world champions Argentina on the brink of an embarrassing group-stage exit.
"Let's not be euphoric or get ahead of ourselves," said Real Madrid midfielder Modric, who scored the second goal. "Of course this win will boost our confidence for the next game, and we have shown we can create opportunities, but let's keep our feet firmly on the ground.
"Our team effort throughout (was the key) and particularly in the second half when we had more possession. In the first half when Argentina had the ball we cut off Messi and stopped him getting the ball. We created three clear chances which we missed. But in the second half it opened up and we deserved to win."
Croatia were the better side for the majority of the match, but missed several first-half chances to break the deadlock, while Argentina midfielder Enzo Perez somehow contrived to miss an open goal.
A horrendous error by Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero allowed Ante Rebic to drill in a magnificent 53rd-minute volley, but Croatia coach Dalic insisted that mistake was not the only reason his team won.
"We created three chances in the first half, these were sitters. (Ivan) Perisic in the left channel, (Mario) Mandzukic's was harder to miss than to score, and Rebic," he said. "That mistake did open things up for us, but we deserved that goal as it wasn't our first chance, it was our fourth. We deserved everything we got out of this game."