JOSIP JURANOVIC and his Croatia team-mates were on the receiving end of a Lionel Messi masterclass as their World Cup dream died in Qatar.
The Argentina superstar hit the deadlock-breaking goal via the spot as he inspired his nation to a convincing 3-0 semi-final triumph and they now await the winners of tonight’s other tie between France and Morocco to discover their opponents in Sunday afternoon’s grand finale.
Juranovic, who looks certain to leave Celtic in next month’s transfer window with Serie A cracks Torino reportedly already in touch with the Hoops about his availability, hailed Messi’s breathtaking performance – but wasn’t so impressed by the display from referee Daniele Orsato.
END OF THE WORLD CUP DREAM…Josip Juranovic and his Croatia team-mates can only look on as Julian Alvarez scores one of his double in Argentina’s 3-0 semi-final win.
The 27-year-old Hoops defender said: “Before the penalty-kick, we had a shot on goal and we should have won a corner.
“Those little mistakes turned the game in their favour.
“Luck was on their side, but what can I say…there is one Leo Messi.
“For me, he is the best player in the world, when he receives the ball he works miracles and wonders.”
Juranovic, speaking in a report in the Scottish Sun, added: “The Argentines looked at our game against Brazil and prepared for us.
“I can’t say we were tired. If necessary, we will give the last atom of strength.
“We started the game well, but we lacked the final pass.
CONCENTRATION…Josip Juranovic never lost focus against Lionel Messi and Co.
“Argentina have a lot of good players and I congratulate them on advancing. But still Messi is the one, there is no more to say.
“What’s it like to play against him?
“It’s a dream, but we wanted to win the game, so I wouldn’t look at it that way.”
Messi tucked away the penalty opener for the South Americans before Julian Alvarez made it 2-0 before the break with a solo effort as he powered through Croatia’s backtracking central defence.
Croatia tried to find a way back, but in the 69th minute Messi mesmerised Josko Gvardiol before setting up Alvarez for a tap in for the killer third.
Juranovic will remain in Qatar this week, with the third place play-off scheduled for Saturday.