Croatia has bounced back from defeat against Peru to end their two-match U.S. tour with a victory over Mexico in Dallas on Tuesday.
Stand-in captain Ivan Rakitic converted a second-half penalty to give his side a deserved win at the impressive AT&T stadium in Dallas.
Croatia made 7 changes to the side which went down 2-0 to Peru in Miami on Friday night with Lovre Kalinic replacing Danijel Subasic in goal, Josip Pivaric in for Ivan Strinic at left back, Milan Badelj and Mateo Kovacic replacing Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic, and Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic and Andrej Kramaric starting.
There was a much more urgent start from Croatia in both defence and attack with Rebic looking particularly lively in the opening 10 minutes. Croatia’s first real chance fell to Kramaric in the 12th minute but his shot from inside the box could only sail over the top.
A couple minutes later and Rebic forced a save from Mexico’s keeper with a powerful shot from the left side. Rebic was proving to be a handful for the Mexican defence with his pace and aggression on the left side and Croatia always looked threatening when he had the ball.
Zlatko Dalic was forced to make two first-half substitutions as Sime Vrsaljko and Badelj both limped off with knocks. Mexico rarely threatened Kalinic’s goal in the first half as both sides went into the break locked at 0-0.
Mexico started the second spell with more urgency than they showed in the first and created their first shot at goal but Hernandez could only fire over the bar. Kalinic was called into action in the Croatia goal again a few minutes later saving to his right from Lozano.
Croatia took the lead in the 62nd minute when captain Rakitic converted from the penalty spot after Tin Jedvaj was fouled in the box.
Mexico pressed forward trying to find an equalizer, but Croatia’s defence, well led by Domagoj Vida, and Kalinic thwarted any attack.
Dalic will be happy that the tour has ended with a win and that he had a chance to have a look at most of his squad and will now look ahead to the final two friendlies before the World Cup starts in Russia in June.
Croatia will meet Brazil in England on 3 June, before facing Senegal in Osijek on 8 June.
CROATIA 1-0 MEXICO
AT&T Stadium, Dallas
GOALS: Rakitic (Pen ’62)
CROATIA: Kalini, Pivaric, Vida, Corluka (Nizic), Vrsaljko (Jedvaj), Rakitic (Cop), Kovacic, Badelj (Bradaric), Kramaric, Rebic (Pasalic), Pjaca (Rog)
MEXICO: Ochoa, Araujo, Ayala Hcetor Moreno, Jorge Hernandez, Govea, Guardado, Pizarro, Vela, Javier, Hernandez, Lozano