Croatia vs. Mexico: Breaking Down the Top Highlights from 2014 World Cup Match

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Croatia vs. Mexico: Breaking Down the Top Highlights from 2014 World Cup Match
Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

Mexico took down Croatia by a score of 3-1 on Day 12 of the 2014 World Cup to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament.

The match was full of future implications, as each team had a chance to move on with a victory on Monday.

In the end, it was Mexico celebrating and Croatia heading home early.

With so much at stake on Monday, the match featured plenty of intensity and drama. In fact, even before it began, Croatia midfielder Luka Modric began some trash talking during a press conference, via Simon Borg of MLSSoccer.com:

I think if there's someone who's knees should be shaking in this moment, it's them and not us. I think Croatia is a better team than Mexico, and player for player we have better individuals than Mexico and we will show that tomorrow.

[Guillermo Ochoa] had a lot of luck and he had a great game vs. Brazil but we'll make sure that this doesn't happen again on Monday. With full respect to Ochoa, [Mario] Mandzukic has scored on better 'keepers than him.

Perhaps the Mexican team took those statements to heart.

The game began in a rather defensive fashion. Though Mexico looked more aggressive in its previous two contests, it looked a little apprehensive in the early minutes. This allowed Croatia to maintain much of the possession early in the match.

Croatia was awarded a bevy of early corner kicks for its offensive aggression; however, it was unable to convert.

Mexico was able to surge to Croatia's side of the field in the first half; although, its attempts were few and far between, as neither team managed an on-target shot.

Early in the second half, the same trend continued.

Things appeared to change when the referee denied Mexico a penalty kick even though there was clear evidence of a handball from Croatia's Darijo Srna. Take a look:

That sparked the Mexican offense, as soon after they began to pour it on.

In the 72nd minute, captain Rafael Marquez nailed a header off a beautiful Hector Herrera corner which soared past Stipe Pletikosa to give Mexico a 1-0 lead.

Here's a look courtesy of Oddschanger:

Without much time to even think about what had just happened, Croatia found itself down 2-0 shortly after.

Some brilliant passing led to an easy shot for Andres Guardado in the 75th minute. 2014 World Cup gives us a look at the strike:

Not wasting any time, Mexico continued its onslaught in the 82nd minute, as Javier Hernandez headed in yet another goal for his team off a volley. Take a look, courtesy of Man Utd Vines:

With the game already out of hand, Ivan Perisic and the Croatian offense finally got past Ochoa. The last goal of the game allowed Croatia to find its way on the scoreboard, losing 3-1.

Here's a look at the contest's final goal, courtesy of 2014 World Cup:

Unfortunately, the match didn't end on a high note for Croatia, as an apparently frustrated Ante Rebic was sent off after receiving a red card due to a reckless challenge.

Purely Football tweeted a link to the penalty:

Mexico moves on to the knockout rounds with the win. Its first order of business will be to take on a strong Netherlands team on Sunday. Should Mexico deliver another performance like we saw over the last 20 minutes of Monday's contest, the team could quickly find itself in the quarterfinals.

At this point in the tournament, confidence and momentum are extremely important. After its offensive dominance on Monday, Mexico has plenty of both.

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