Croatia has beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0 at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd stadium in Riyadh on Wednesday afternoon.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić, who said before the match that he would give game time to players who needed it the most, started his only warm-up match ahead of the World Cup with largely a second-string side.
Only goal keeper Dominik Livaković and midfield Marcelo Brozović from the starting line-up are expected to start next week in Croatia’s World Cup opener against Morocco.
Luka Šučić started his first match for Croatia, whilst Dinamo striker Bruno Petković started up front. Dejan Lovren wore the captain’s armband and led a back four with Borna Barišić, Josip Stanišić and Martin Erlić.
Mario Pašalić and Nikola Vlašič were used out wide in the midfield, whilst Lovro Majer started in the middle.
The match was moved to the later kick-off time of 3 pm because of the heat but it was still a warm afternoon in Riyadh and the home side looked more accustom, creating a number of chances in the first half.
Croatia had a chance early through Pašalić but his shot from the edge of the box lacked any real power. Saudi Arabia created the better chances in the half as Croatia looked out of sorts, but it would remain goalless at the halftime break.
Dalić introduced Mateo Kovačić and Mislav Oršić at the start of the second half and Croatia immediately looked more controlled with the ball in attack.
Oršić had Croatia’s first chance in the second half after some good play between Borzović and Stanišić, but his shot from inside the box went well wide.
Brozović, who was celebrating his 30th birthday, went close next with a shot which shaved the post. Domagoj Vida came on midway through the half to make his 100th appearance for Croatia and took the captain’s armband.
Saudi Arabia had a massive chance to go ahead in the 62nd minute but a free shot from just yards went just over the bar. They would come close again when they hit the post 10 minutes later.
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) November 16, 2022
Andrej Kramarić would find the back of the next in the 73rd minute but his tap in would be ruled out for offside. in the 83rd minute Kramarić would find the back of the net again after he beat two players and fired into the bottom right-hand corner. This time it would count and Croatia took a 1-0 lead.
Luka Modrić and Ivan Perišić were given the last 25 minutes and the good news for Dalić was that there were no injury concerns after the match.
Croatia now heads to Qatar.
23 November: CROATIA v Morocco – Al Bayt Stadium – 11 am (Croatian time)
27 November: CROATIA v Canada – Khalifa International Stadium – 5 pm
1 December: CROATIA v Belgium – Ahmad bin Ali Stadium – 4 pm