Croatia returned to Euro 2024 qualifying action in Rijeka and resumed with a dominant performance against Latvia.
Three goals in the opening half put the result in no doubt and Croatia would cruise to an impressive 5-0 win in front of a packed HNK Rijeka Stadium tonight.
Zlatko Dalić’s side got off the perfect start when Bruno Petković curled in a free-kick from 28 metres out to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
As expected, Croatia dominated possession early on and looked in the mood and threatening on attack.
With Mateo Kovačić rested after feeling a twinge in training, Luka Ivanušec was given a chance in the midfield and in the 13th minute he would double the lead when he side-footed home from close range.
Just before the break, Petković would get his second. Ivan Perišić would beat his marker down the left before threading a wonderful through-ball to the waiting Petković who only had to tap in to an empty goal.
Croatia started the second half in the same fashion as they played the first and nearly had a fourth but the upright would save Latvia after Luka Modrić let fly from inside the box.
Andrej Kramarić extended the lead in the 67th minute when he was left unmarked at the back post from a free kick and he would guide the ball into the back of the next.
Substitute Mario Pašalić was next to get on the scoresheet in the 77th minute. After cutting inside the box and beating his defender, the Atalanta midfielder would drill the ball past a hapless Latvia keeper to make it 5-0.
Dalić will be happy with the urgency his side showed tonight, and the fact that they converted chances early to put the game to bed which gave him a chance to give players like Modrić and Joško Gvardiol a rest by taking them off early.
Croatia, who face Armenia away on Monday, is now second in Group D, three points behind Turkey but they have two games in hand.