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Croatia and Wales draw in Split in Euro 2024 qualifying opener

Croatia and Wales drew 1-1 in their Euro 2024 qualifying Group D opener on Saturday night in Split.

A full house at Poljud Stadium welcomed Croatia in what was their first match since finishing third at the World Cup in Qatar. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić started the match with local hero Marko Livaja up front, whilst Josip Šutalo replaced the recently-retired Dejan Lovren as Joško Gvardiol’s centre-back partner. 

With captain Luka Modrić again calling the shots, Croatia controlled possession early from the get-go, and it would not be long before they were creating chances. 

After Modrić and Andrej Kramarić had two chances well saved, Croatia deservedly took the lead in the 28th minute when Kramarić found the bounce of the ball go his way and after advancing towards goal his right-foot shot would beat Ward inside his left post to make it 1-0.

The goal was Kramarić’s 23rd goal for his country.

Croatia should have made it 2-0 before the break, but instead of laying the ball into the path of a free Ivan Perišić inside the box, Kramarić opted to shoot, but his shot would not find the target. 

Croatia started the second half much as they ended the first, and they would have a great opportunity to double their lead, but Kovačić’s shot from six yards out would go over the bar.

Dalić brought on Petar Musa for his Croatia debut early in the second half, replacing an injured Livaja.

Wales has their first real chance of the match in the 61st minute when James was left unmarked at the back post, but his close range shot would go wide.

Croatia pressed for a second to put the game to bed, and although Perišić hit the crossbar with a fantastic shot from the left, Wales defended well.

With two minutes remaining in added time, Wales would find an equaliser when Nathan Broadhead on debut found himself unmarked at the back post from a long throw in and he would stabbed the ball past Dominik Livaković to make it 1-1. 

Croatia travels to face Turkey next on Tuesday. Turkey came from behind earlier today to beat Armenia 2-1.

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