SPLIT, 10 October 2019 – Croatia has moved a step closer to qualifying for EURO 2020 after a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Hungary in front of a packed Poljud Stadium in Split on Thursday night.
A double from Dinamo Zagreb striker Bruno Petković after Luka Modrić opened the scoring has sent Croatia three points clear at the top of Group E with two games remaining.
With a fantastic crowd of 32,110 behind them, Zlatko Dalić’s side got off to a great start and took the lead in just the 5th minute when Modrić was left one-on-one with Hungary keeper Gulacsi after dispossessing defender Kadar of the ball. The Croatia captain made no mistake, calmly slotting home to make it 1-0.
Croatia continued to control possession and after a half chance to Ivan Perišić they would double the lead in the 24th minute. AC Milan winger Ante Rebić would break free down the left before finding Petković with his back to goal and a cheeky backheel from the Dinamo striker would find the back of the net to make it 2-0.
Petković would get his second just three minutes before the break when he would stab home a cross from two yards out to send Croatia into the break 3-0 up.
Croatia could have gone 4-0 up in the 54th minute when they were awarded a penalty but Perišić’s effort was saved by Gulácsi diving to his right. Hungary were then reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute when Kleinhesler was given his second yellow.
With a match in three days time against Wales, Dalić would take off captain Modrić, Rakitić and Perišić, giving a chance to youngsters Josip Brekalo, Nikola Vlašić and Mateo Kovačić. Croatia pressed for a fourth in the dying stages of the match and although Rebić would shave the post with a right foot shot, they were unable to find the back of the net.
Croatia now heads to Cardiff on Sunday with a win would sealing their spot at EURO 2020.
13 October, 20:45 (Sunday – Cardiff): Wales – Croatia
16 November, 20:45 (Saturday – Rijeka): Croatia – Slovakia
CROATIA 3-0 HUNGARY
EURO 2020 qualifier, Group E
Poljud Stadium, Split
GOALS: Modrić 5′, Petković 24′, 42′
CROATIA (4-2-3-1): Livaković – Jedvaj, Lovren, Vida, Barišić – Brozović, Modrić (Kovačić 66′) – Rebić, Rakitić (Vlašić 72′), Perišić (Brekalo 60′) – Petković
HUNGARY (4-2-3-1): Gulácsi – Lovrencsics, Korhut, Orban, Kadar – Kleinheisler, Vida – Dzudzsak, Holman, Sallai, – Szalai