A 90th-minute goal has handed Croatia its first defeat of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign in Iceland on Sunday evening.
Croatia still remains at the top of Group 1, but as coach Ante Čačić explains, a lack of energy from the visitors means the qualifying group has now opened itself up.
“Congratulations to our hosts for the win. It seemed that this match will finish goalless, considering the small number of opportunities, but Iceland managed to score from the set-piece, their main quality. We did not do enough going forward, we couldn’t develop our style of play, while Iceland was more energetic. Our reactions were too slow, we have made too many mistakes”, said Čačić to HNS.
“We do not want to seek alibis, but the fact is that some of our players were tired from the exhausting club season, while some our key players were missing through injury. We did not lack the desire or motivation. I do not believe anything is lost, Croatia still has everything in its hands, and I am convinced that this team will prove quality in the upcoming matches”, he added.
Captain Luka Modrić, who lifted the UEFA Champions League Cup for the third time last weekend, was equally disappointed.
“We are disappointed with the result, but with our performance as well. Everything was OK for the first 15 or 20 minutes, and afterwards our play became slow and predictable, without enough movement off the ball. That way, against Iceland, it is difficult to create chances. We wanted to win, but we were looking empty and tired. We were below the necessary level, but we move on – I think we can reach Russia in the following matches. This is not a disaster, we just have to make sure not to lose again”, said Modrić.
1. Croatia 13
2. Iceland 13
3. Turkey 11
4. Ukraine 11
5. Finland 1
6. Kosovo 1
ICELAND – CROATIA 1:0 (0:0)
2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, Group I.
Goals: 1:0 – Magnusson (90′)
ICELAND: Halldorsson, Saevarsson, R. Sigurdsson (90+1′ Ingason), Arnason, Magnusson, Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson, Bjarnason (81′ Gislason), G. Sigurdsson, Finnbogason (77′ Sigurdarsson).
CROATIA: L. Kalinić, Pivarić, Vida, Lovren, Jedvaj, Badelj, Modrić, Kovačić, Perišić, Mandžukić (88′ Santini), N. Kalinić (63′ Brozović).