Croatian captain Luka Modric has had a disappointing night on his 100th appearance for his country as his side could only manage a draw with Finland at Rujevica stadium in Rijeka on Friday night.
Croatia, needing a victory to help their 2018 World Cup chances, started with an attacking formation as Andrej Kramaric joined Mario Mandzukic in an attacking role.
As expected Croatia dominated possession from the outset and created some half chances in the opening quarter as Vrsaljko fired a shot close past the post and Kramaric went close with a left-foot effort from distance.
Domagoj Vida nearly opened the scoring after 20 minutes but he had his header from a corner cleared off the line. Two minutes later Modric had his curling free-kick punched away by Hradecký as Croatia started to lift the tempo.
Perisic was next to come close as his shot from inside the box was deflected wide of the post, but there were to be no real clear-cut chances in a half Croatia would control with possession with a massive 72%.
— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) October 6, 2017
A more energised Croatia came out in the second half as they peppered Finland with attack after attack. Modric had a shot from the edge of the box shave the upright before Croatia finally broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Mandzukic tapped in a cross from the left which was deflected towards goal by a Finnish defender.
Substitute Marko Rog, who played a part in Croatia’s goal, added energy to the midfield had a chance himself in the 68th minute but fired wide from outside the box.
Finland began to cause some scares for Croatia late in the half and had some chances of their own as Ante Cacic’s side looked as if they started to tire, and it was no surprise that Finland found an equaliser in the dying minutes of the match when Sori latched onto a loose ball in the box.
Croatia, now in second spot in Group I, faces Ukraine in Kiev in their final group match on Monday.
Group I standings:
1. Iceland (+7) – 19
2. CROATIA (+9) 17
3. Ukraine (+5) – 17
4. Turkey (+1) – 14
5. Finland (-2) – 8
6. Kosovo (-17) – 1
CROATIA 1-1 FINLAND
2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Group I
GOALS: Mandzukic 57′, Sori 90′
CROATIA: Subasic – Vrsaljko, Mitrovic, Vida, Pivaric – Rakitic, Modric © – Brozovic (Rog 55′), Kramaric (Cop 80′), Perisic – Mandzukic (Pasalic 85′)
FINLAND: Hradecký – Arajuuri, Moisander ©, Ojala – Grandlund, Schüller, Sparv, Hetemaj – Hämäläinen – Pohjanpalo, Skrabb