Live updates: Football World Cup semi-final - Argentina v Croatia at Qatar's Lusail Iconic Stadium

Argentina 3 (Messi pen 34th min, Alvarez 39th, 69th min) Croatia 0

FULLTIME - It was all Argentina today, the double strike in the space of five minutes wrestling the game away from the Croatians. Click here for a full wrap and highlights.

90th min - Five minutes of added time to be played.

85th min - Chance for Lovren! Corner whipped across the face of goal but he can't get the body part he needed on it to nudge it into goal.

83rd min - MacAllister catches the Croatian defence napping, almost fired home a fourth but his low shot is just wide of the post.

81st min - Here comes the white flag - Luka Modric making his way off the pitch to likely bring to an end the World Cup career of one of the greats.

75th min - It's all rather processional out there now. Perisic launches a long-range strike, well off target.

69th min - GOOOOOOOAAAAAL ARGENTINA! - Absolutely classic Lionel Messi. Turns on two defenders outside the box, skins his man down the line and lays it on a platter for Alvarez to direct home his second goal of the match. I think we can safely put this match to bed.

66th min - Argentina break with numbers but without the same verve as they would without a 2-0 lead. Cross headed clear, Modric runs it out for Croatia.

62nd min - Modric sends a free kick into the box and it falls messy to the feet of Pekovic, who couldn't get the purchase he needed on his strike. Argentina hack it away to safety. 

60th min - Argentina make a defensive change, Lisandro Martinez on as a central defender to bolster the line against attacking substitute Pekovic. Paredes departs.

57th min - Argentina with some front-foot ball, Alvarez lurking in the box but a crucial pass is cut off. 

Messi! Holds off his defender and manages to get a shot away but it's deflected at the nea post by keeper Kovakovic.

53rd min - Croatia controlling the ball, Argentina understandably a bit more content to sit back behind it at this stage of the match.

49th min - Argentina probing at the top of the box, couple of borderline fouls waved away. Paredes decides to have a crack from long range, it's on target but safely into Livakovic's clutches. 

46th min - All to play for now, Croatia must throw some caution to the wind to try and pull back this deficit.

Good early chance from a free kick, Modric to swing it in from 10m outside the box...comfortably collected by Martinez.

Second half underway...

HALFTIME - The Argentina and their fans can almost taste it now. Croatia had most of the running early but Messi's penalty and Fernandez's strike just a few minutes later has turned this match on its head. Long way back now for the Croatians.

47th min - Four minutes of added time in the second half to be played. Messi plays a superb ball down the left flank but Fernandez couldn't keep himself onside.

45th min - Modric with a neat ball in for Pasalic, well smothered by Martinez.

42nd min - What a save! MacAllister's downward header is somehow kept out by Livakovic. The momentum has swung massively here. Messi's corner punched away for another.

39th min - GOOOOOOAL ARGENTINA! - Brilliant run from near halfway on the counterattack by Alvarez, as defenders twice deflect the ball fortuitously back into his path and it's eventually flicked past Livakovic to complete a lethal double strike for Argentina. Huge mountain to climb now for Croatia.

37th min - Livakovic could count himself a little unlucky to concede that penalty there. Looked to have a made a legitimate contest on the ball but his trailing leg sent Fernandez tumbling, never a great look. No surprise that was awarded.

34th min - GOOOOOOOOAL ARGENTINA! - Messi blasts his penalty into the top right corner to give Livakovic no chance and Argentina - somewhat against the run of play - have the lead.

32nd min - PENALTY ARGENTINA - Livakovic is deemed to have take down Fernandez. VAR is checking...and have confirmed. Who else but Lionel Messi to take this one.

31st min - Modric ignites another attack. Beautiful ball movement ends with Perisic, who fires an ambitious chip shot, it's over the bar.

28th min - Lightning counterattack by Croatia, ends with a free kick about 10 metres out from the edge of the box. Modric whips it in, Argentina counter. Modric tracks all the way back to make a crucial defensive header.

25th min - Good period here for Argentina. Through ball for Alvarez, he slides and gets a cross in but can't find any any teammates.

Fernandez threatens near the edge of the box, unleashes the first shot of the day on target - a low tracker which lacked sting, well dealt with by Livakovic.

21st min - Argentina edge their way inside Croatian territory. Messi makes a run, offloads, gets the ball back near the box and looks to put Alvazrez through but it's broken up by the Croatian defence.

18th min - Croatia have been the most threatening side so far, enjoying 66 percent of the total possession.

16th min - Modric dictating, as he does so brilliantly. Earns a corner. They go short, ball to the far post finds Juranovic's head but he can't get much purchase, out harmlessly for a goal kick.

13th min - MacAllister looks to spark a counterattack for Argentina, fouled near halfway. Messi goes to ground as he looked to make a run into the box, appeals for a free kick but the referee waves it off. Looked to have a had a decent case there for what would have been a great chance on goal.

11th min - Perisic makes one of his patented long throw-ins to the box, well handled by the Argentinian defence. Croatia still with the run of play here early.

9th min - Long period of possession for Croatia. Romero eventually breaks their rhythm.

6th min - Messi looks to make a run in bhind the defence but Molina's pass is too strong. Goalkick.

First free kick goes Argentina's way. They'll launch from near halfway.

4th min - Kovacic makes a spowrful run through the midfield, Argie defence comes to the party to force a throw-in. Croatia back in control through Modric, Molina sends in a cross but goalkeeper Martinez is up to the task.

2nd min - Lovren makes the first steal of the day. Argentina hold possession steadily near halfway. Searching ball forward doesn't find its target, Croatia throw-in.

1st min - Croatia get us started. The semi-final is on.

We're underway...

7:55am - The customary pyrotechnics display is over and the teams are making their way out on to the pitch at a raucous Lusail Iconic Stadium.

The Argentinian fans have travelled in hoardes for this tournament but there's still a fair dose of red and white checks through the crowd.

7:30am - Morena, football fans! We're now just 30 minutes away from kick off in Qatar.

Both teams have now finalised their gameday squads. Argentina have made two changes to the starting eleven that won on penalties against the Netherlands, while Croatia have named an unchanged line-up from their triumph over Brazil.

Nicolas Tagliafico will start as left full-back in place of suspended Marcos Acuna while Leandro Paredes comes into midfield with defender Lisandro Martinez on the bench.

Argentina: Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nahuel Molina, Nicolas Tagliafico, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, Alexis Mac Allister, Enzo Fernandez, Julian Alvarez, Lionel Messi

Croatia: Dominik Livakovic, Borna Sosa, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mario Pasalic, Josko Gvardiol, Josip Juranovic


Kia ora and welcome to live updates of the first semi-final of the Football World Cup between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar.

Led by the mercurial Lionel Messi playing his final Cup, Argentina have put themselves into a position to farewell their iconic hero in the most fitting of fashions by ensuring he heads back to Buenos Aires with the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time in his decorated career.

But Croatia will have plenty to say about that. Fresh off slaying Goliath in their quarter-final against Brazil, the giant killers have their sights set on another heavyweight scalp and a second straight World Cup final - a remarkable feat for a nation of under four million.

We'll have all of the action for you from 8am (NZ time).

TAB betting odds:

Argentina - $1.40 Croatia - $2.87

Argentina possible starting lineup:

E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Fernandez, De Paul, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez

Croatia possible starting lineup:

Livakovic; Juranovic, Gvardiol, Lovren, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic

Croatia hope Argentina will behave themselves in semi-final

Croatia are hoping Argentina's bad-tempered World Cup quarter-final qualification over the Netherlands with 16 yellow cards and one red will not spill over into Wednesday's semi-final, coach Zlatko Dalic said.

The Argentines eventually prevailed on penalties after squandering a two-goal lead but the game was marred by disciplinary violations from both sides throughout.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi exchanged words with Dutch coach Louis van Gaal following the final whistle and called a Dutch player 'a fool'.

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, have gotten their own taste of Argentine temper in the past following their group stage win over them at the 2018 World Cup with then-Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli refusing to shake Dalic's hand.

But Dalic, whose team beat tournament favourites Brazil also on penalties to advance to the last four for the second World Cup in a row, said he bore no grudges.

"I understand the actors involved and the expectations were high back then (in 2018). It happens and we shall not hold any grudges," Dalic said.

"I don't get angry at anyone in an emotional state of mind. Argentina against Netherlands was also quite feisty and difficult with many non-football related behaviours. I really hope this will not be the case tomorrow."

Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi. Photo credit: Getty Images

Argentina players also mocked the Dutch at the end of the penalty shootout while some Netherlands players had provoked the Argentines during the game.

"Tomorrow's match is a great match for Argentina as well as us. The stakes are high for both and a spot in the final is at stake," Dalic said.

Croatia will be hoping to reach the World Cup final for the second tournament in a row after losing the 2018 showcase match to reigning world champions France, who play Morocco in the other semi-final.

Asked to rate Croatia's success in the past four years, Dalic said the 2018 semi-final win over England was so far their biggest match.

"For me the semi-final match against England was the greatest match of all time. The Brazil game (in the quarter-finals in Qatar) comes second and tomorrow's match would be third on that list," Dalic said.

"But if we win tomorrow it would make it the greatest Croatian match of all time."

Dalic's advice to his players and their few fans who have made the trip to Qatar was to enjoy the game.

"I always say to our fans and players to enjoy the football," he said. "Each of us has to enjoy the work, the profession we are doing. Only if players are happy can they be what they are.

"They have deserved the joy to be one of the four best teams in the world."