OSIJEK, 8 June 2019 – Croatia has gone to the top of their EURO 2020 qualifying group after a 2-1 win over Wales in Osijek on Saturday.
A first half own-goal and a Ivan Perišić second-half strike was enough to give Zlatko Dalić’s side the three points on a very hot afternoon Osijek.
Croatia looked a lot more urgent in the opening quarter than they did in their last match against Hungary with Perišić having a couple of chances to let fly with his left foot inside the box.
The packed house at Gradski vrt did not have to wait too long to celebrate when in the 17th minute a Perišić cross from the left was put into his own net from two yards out by Wales defender James Lawrence.
Croatia kept the pressure on after the goal and were causing all Wales all sorts of problems through Luka Modrić and wingers Josip Brekalo and Perišić.
Andrej Kramarić went close with his curling effort from inside the box, whilst Wales also had a half-chance to equaliser just before the break as Dominik Livaković was forced to make a good save.
Croatia did not need long to double the lead in the second half. After Mateo Kovačić had his goal ruled out, Perišić would find the back of the net in the 48th minute when he was first to a rebound and made no mistake driving a right-foot shot past Wayne Hennessey.
Gareth Bale had two chances for the visitors to narrow the lead, first with a free kick that went over the bar from just outside the box, and five minutes later with a shot which was saved by Livaković.
With 13 minutes remaining, Wales did managed to narrow the lead when a shot from substitute Brooks was deflected by Domagoj Vida past Livaković.
Kramarić haad a chance to make it 3-1 with four minutes remaining but his shot could only find the side netting. He had an even better chance in injury time but was denied by Hennessey. There were a few nervous moments in injury time as Wales pushed forward but Livaković was safe in goal for Croatia.
The heat took its toll on both sides who were out on their feet at the end of the match.
Once again, Modrić proved to be the difference in the middle of the park for Croatia, whilst Perišić and Brekalo also caused problems for the visitors. Livaković also done a good job in goal when he was called upon to make saves.
Croatia will face Tunisia in a friendly next on 11 June in Varaždin.
CROATIA 2 – 1 WALES
Euro 2020 qualifier, Group E
Gradski vrt, Osijek
GOALS: Lawrence (OG) 17’, Perišić 48′, Brooks 77′
CROATIA (4-2-3-1): Livaković – Jedvaj, Lovren, Vida, Barišić – Modrić, Brozović – Brekalo (Pašalić 67′), Kovačić (Badelj 75′), Perišić (Škorić 90′) – Kramarić
WALES (4-4-1-1): Hennessey – Roberts, Mepham, Lawrence, Davies – Wilson, Allen, Smith, James (Brooks 65′) – Vaulks