PULA, 19 November 2019 – Croatia has ended 2019 with a 2-1 victory against Georgia in an international friendly in Pula on Tuesday night.
Zlatko Dalic made 8 changes from the side which secured a birth at Euro 2020 on Saturday night with new captain Ivan Perisic, Ante Rebic and Tin Jedvaj the only players to back up from the 3-1 win over Slovakia.
Although it was a friendly, both sides started the match aggressively and in an attacking frame of mind and it would be the visitors who would take a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when Croatia keeper Lovre Kalinic reacted poorly to a shot from Papunashvili and would parry the ball into the net.
The 5,000 Croatian fans who turned out in the rain at Aldo Drosina stadium did not have to wait long for a reply as Georgia captain Kashia chested into his own net from a free-kick whipped into the box from Mislav Orsic in the 25th minute.
A minute later, Croatia almost took the lead when Perisic’s shot from inside the box was tipped onto the crossbar by Georgia keeper Makaridze.
Coach Dalic made a number of changes at halftime, giving game time to most of his squad.
Rebic, who was full of energy and a handfull for Georgia in the first half, had a chance to put Croatia ahead in the 49th minute but his shot from six yards out was well blocked. Perisic went close next a minute later with a shot from 20 yards out which shaved the upright.
Captian Perisic finally put Croatia in front in the 53rd minute when he headed home a cross from Josip Juranovic from the right.
Dalic continued to make the changes in the final quarter, bringing on Vlasic and Peric, but there would be no further goals in the match. Rebic would come closest in the 77th minute when he dribbled his way into the box before being blocked by the Georgia keeper.
For Croatia, Rebic was much improved from Saturday night, whilst Mateo Kovacic was impressive in the 65 minutes he played. There was concern for Dalic when Vlasic limped off in the 80th minute.
CROATIA 2-1 GEORGIA
Aldo Drosina stadium, Pula
GOALS: Papunashvili 19’, Kashia OG 25′, Perisic 53′
CROATIA: Kalinic (Sluga); Melnjak, Jedvaj (Caleta-Car), Skoric, Bartolec (Juranovic); Badelj, Kovacic (Vlasic); Perisic, Pasalic (Peric), Rebic; Oršić (Rog)
GEORGIA: Makaridze; Kakabadze, Kashia, Navalovski, Hocholava; Gvilia, Papunashvili, Qazaishvili, Aburjania, Jigauri; Lobjanidze