TRNAVA, 6 September 2019 – An impressive Croatia has picked up an important three points on the road against Slovakia tonight in their EURO 2020 qualifier.
A debut goal for the national team from Nikola Vlasic and a bit of magic from Dinamo Zagreb striker Bruno Petkovic has helped Croatia beat Slovakia 4-0 at Anton Malatinsky Stadium in Trnava.
Croatia, who were missing Ivan Rakitic, Andrej Kramaric and Mateo Kovacic, would test Dubravka in the Slovakia goal just 15 seconds into the match when Rebic fired from outside the box after good work from Modric. Croatia almost took the lead in the 9th minute, first when Modric saw his short just go over the bar, then seconds later Brozovic’s left-footed strike would rattle the crossbar.
Slovakia’s first attempt on goal would come in the 11th minute when Mak’s shot from distance tested Livakovic in the Croatia goal. Croatia should have taken the lead in the 29th minute when defender Vida was left unmarked following a corner just yards away from the goal but his shot would go over the bar.
Croatia were looking good and were creating all sorts of problems now for the hosts. Petkovic went close next in the 31st minute after going on a solo run but his shot would be saved but the feet of of Dubravka. In the 35th minute, Croatia would hit the crossbar once again, this time it would be Perisic who would watch his right foot curling shot crash against the bar.
Zlatko Dalic’s side controlled possession and finally took a deserved lead just moments before the break when Nikola Vlasic scored his first goal for Croatia. The CSKA Moscow midfielder gathered the ball in the Slovakia half, shook off Slovakian defender Lobotka before firing a right-foot shot in the bottom left-hand corner to make it 1-0.
Croatia would double the lead just seconds into the second spell when new Bayern Munich signing Perisic saw his shot from outside the box take a deflection and beat Dubravka in the Slovakia goal.
Livakovic was called upon again two minutes later and made a fine save to deny Mak. Croatia kept up the intensity and looked dangerous on attack. There would be half chances to Brozovic. Rebic and Petkovic but Slovakia managed to keep the deficit to two until a bit of magic from Petkovic in the 72nd miniute. The Dinamo Zagreb striker would recieve the ball with his back to goal inside the box and would then beat one defender with a backheel turn before beating another and slotting past Dubravka.
Brekalo looked dangerous when he was introduced and went close with a couple of shots in the dying stages, but another substitute, Pasalic, should have put Croatia 4-0 up with four minutes remaining, but he would shoot wide. Lovren would make it 4-0 for Croatia in the final minute when he headed home a cross from Brozovic.
Croatia will meet Azerbaijan away in Baku next on Monday, 9 September.
EURO 2020 Qualifiers, Group E
Anton Malatinsky Stadium, Trnava
SLOVAKIA 0-4 CROATIA
GOALS: Vlasic 45′, Perisic 46′, Petkovic 72′, Lovren 89′
SLOVAKIA: Dubravka – Valjent, Vavro, Skriniar, Hancko – Kucka, Lobotka, Hamsik © – Rusnak, Duda, Mak
CROATIA: Livakovic – Bartolec, Vida, Lovren, Barisic – Brozovic, Modric © – Rebic (Brekalo 70′), Vlasic (Badelj 81′), Perisic – Petkovic (Pasalic 83′)