A Croatian side made up of local players has lost to Chile on penalties 4-1 after the scores were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes at the 2017 China Cup on Wednesday in Nanning, China.
Led by Dinamo Zagreb left back Josip Pivarić, Croatia went into the match played at a wet and near-empty Guangxi Stadium as underdogs.
Chile created the first chance of the match in the 8th minute when Fuenzalida powered his shot from the edge of the box straight at Croatia keeper Livaković, after some good work from Vargas.
Croatia, who had only been together for two training sessions, then created its first shot two minutes later when Dinamo attacker Šitum fired just over the bar from outside the box.
Chile went ahead in the 18th minute when Vargas again created space and laid off for debutant Pinares to fire home past Livaković.
A great save from Livaković in the 35th minute from Fuenzalida kept the score at 1-0.
Croatia enjoyed more possession in the second half of the first spell, but only created one real chances when Filipović headed just wide from six yards out.
Chile started stronger in the second half and it was keeper Livaković again who kept a Pinares shot out.
Croatia’s best chance in the match came in the 65th minute when Andrijašević found Tudor free inside the box. Tudor managed to square it across the face of goal but Barišić could only find the side-netting with his shot.
Chile should have doubled the lead however in the 70th minute, but Vargas, one-on-one with the Croatian keeper, had his shot saved. Three minutes later and Varags again was thwarted by Livaković in a one-on-one position.
Croatia managed to find an equaliser in the 77th minute when Andrijašević expertly volleyed home a Tudor cross.
Croatia looked more likely to snatch a winner in the final ten minutes, but the scores remained level as the match went into penalties.
For Croatia Antolić and Marić would have their penalties saved to give Chile a 4-1 win in the penalty shoot-out.
Croatia will now face China on Saturday morning (CET) in the 3rd-4th playoff with Chile to meet Iceland in the final of the first China Cup on Sunday.
The first China Cup comes as China’s national team prepares to compete for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. China is the world’s most populous soccer market and the Asian nation has invested a lot of money recently as they aim to a force in the game in the not too distant future.
CROATIA 1 – 1 (1-4 pens) CHILE
2017 China Cup
Guangxi Stadium – Nanning
GOALS: Pinares 18′, Andrijašević 77′
CROATIA: Livaković – Matas, Barać, Filipović, Pivarić – Antolić, Mišić – Šitum (Barišić), Andrijašević (Ivanušec), Ozobić (Tudor) – Perošević (Marić)
CHILE: Toselli; Opazo, Díaz, Maripan, Beausejour; Carmona, Pavez, Pinares; Fuenzalida, Valencia, Vargas