Croatia has suffered its second defeat of its 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign after going down 1-0 to Turkey at Stadium Eskişehir Yeni Stadyumu in Eskisehir on Tuesday evening.
Turkey made 7 changes from the 2-0 loss they suffered in Ukraine on Saturday, whilst Croatia coach Ante Čačić was without the injured Ivan Rakitić, and left Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic on the bench from their 1-0 win over Kosovo on Sunday.
Despite the parochial home crowd, Croatia started the brightest and created an early chance when good lead up play lead to Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovačić put through inside the box, his shot, however, was brilliantly saved by Babacan in the Turkey goal.
Croatia kept up the pressure and should have been awarded a penalty when Luka Modrić’s whipped in free kick was handled by a Turkish defender as he scrambled the ball away from Domagoj Vida’s lunge to meet it with his head.
Turkey started to get into the game themselves, creating a half chance moments later but the resulting shot went wide. Croatia looked solid at the back and keeper Danijel Subašić was not troubled as the sides went into the break tied at 0-0.
Croatia looked good after the break attacking Turkey. Dejan Lovren would force a save from Babacan before Perišić’s right-foot shot shaved the post.
Čačić rang the changes, bringing on Kramarić and Mandzukic, but Croatia was unable to find a way through and Turkey would make them pay in the 69th minute after some sustained pressure.
Oguzhan Ozyakyup had his powerful strike at goal from outside the area spilled by keeper Danijel Subasic right into the path of Tosun who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
“We played well the whole 90 minutes, we looked good, and I would say we dominated but we made a mistake and they capitalised and took the three points. That is football. We played well just we were lacking a goal. Nothing is over, we have two games left and have to focus on those to get positive results,” Čačić said after the match.
Tonight’s result has left Group I wide open with two matches to play.
Points Table – Group I
1. Croatia – 16
2. Iceland – 16
3. Ukraine – 14
4. Turkey – 14
5. Finland – 7
6. Kosovo – 1
2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Group I
Stadium Eskişehir Yeni Stadyumu
Turkey 1-0 Croatia
CROATIA: Subašić, Vida, Pivarić, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Modrić, Badelj, Kovačić (Kramarić ’70), Perišić, Brozović, Kalinić (Mandzukic ’61)
TURKEY: Babacan; Ayhan, Topal, Soyuncu, Erkin; Sahin, Ozyakup, Calhanoglu; Arda Turan, Yilmaz, Tosun