CARDIFF, 13 October 2019 – Croatia will have to wait until next month to cement a spot at EURO 2020 after failing to beat Wales in Cardiff on Sunday night.
Both sides would share the points after a 1-1 draw in a game of few chances in front of 33,000 fans at Cardiff City Stadium.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić made three changes from the side which beat Hungary in Split on Thursday with Mateo Kovačić, Josip Brekalo and Nikola Vlašić coming in for Ivan Rakitić, Ante Rebić and the suspended Marcelo Brozović.
As has been the case so often in the qualifying campaign, Croatia would go ahead with an early goal. This time it would be Vlašić who would opening the scoring in the 9th minute. Brekalo would go on a mazy run down the right before finding Bruno Petković who would lay the ball off for Vlašić just outside the box. His right-foot shot would find the inside the post and go into the back of the net.
Croatia nearly doubled the lead in the 13th minute when a great long ball from Petković found Ivan Perišić inside the box but his header from 6 yards out would be brilliantly saved by Hennessey in the Wales goal.
For the next half an hour there would be not much action at either end before the half came to life again in stoppage time. When a foul on Kovačić was missed by the ref, Wales reacted quicker as Gareth Bale was put through in the box. The Real Madrid winger was too quick for Dejan Lovren and he would finish well past Dominik Livaković to make it 1-1 on the stroke of halftime.
Wales would come closest first in the second spell when Daniel James would have a shot saved by Livaković. Dalić would introduce Rebić into the match and he immediately made an impact, setting Perišić free inside the box but his cross across the face of the goal would be cleared.
With Modrić kept quiet for most of the second spell, Croatia could not create any real chances to get a second goal and did not test Hennessey at all in the half. There would be further bad news for Croatia as Modrić would be carried off in the final minute of the match.
Croatia now have 14 points, two more than Hungary in second place. Slovakia are third with 10 points but have a game in hand. Croatia meet Slovakia in their final qualifying game on 16 November in Rijeka. A draw will be enough for Croatia to qualify for EURO 2020.
WALES 1-1 CROATIA
EURO 2020 qualifier, Group E
Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
GOALS: Vlašić 9’, Bale 45’
WALES: – Hennessey – Davies, Rodon, Lockyer, Roberts – Allen, Ampadu – Bale, J. Williams, James – Moore
CROATIA: – Livaković – Barišić, Vida, Lovren, Jedvaj – Modrić, Kovačić (Rakitić 45’) – Perišić, Vlašić, Brekalo – Petković (Rebić)