RIJEKA, 27 March 2021 – Luka Modrić set a new record for his country on Saturday night as Croatia beat Cyprus 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier in Rijeka.
Croatia broke their record 4-game losing streak thanks to a first half goal from Atalanta midfielder Mario Pašalić.
Zlatko Dalić made four changes from the team which lost 1-0 to Slovenia on Wednesday, bringing in Duje Ćaleta-Car, Josip Brekalo, Ante Budimir and Pašalić into the starting line-up for Domagoj Vida, Nikola Vlašić, Andrej Kramarić and Mateo Kovačić.
Croatia controlled possession from the outset but for the first half an hour they did not threaten the Cyprus goal as the visitors defended in numbers.
The breakthrough finally came though in the 40th minute when Pašalić headed home from close range.
As in the first half, Croatia controlled much of the possession in the second half but again failed to create any real clear cut chances for long periods.
Dalić made a number of changes in the second half, introducing Vlašić, Kovačić, Mislav Oršić and Kramarić, but it did not help with creating many chances or breaking down the compact Cyprus defence.
Whilst Croatia took all three points, there will be concerns for Dalić as the World Cup runners-up struggled to show any real authority against the world’s 100th-ranked team.
Record for Modrić
Modrić made his 135th appearance for Croatia tonight, one more than previous record-holder Darijo Srna. Modrić made his debut for Croatia against Argentina in a friendly in Switzerland on 1 March 2006.
There are only 8 other players who have made the 100 caps club for Croatia. Stipe Pletikosa (114), Ivan Rakitić (106), Josip Šimunić (105), Ivica Olić (104), Vedran Ćorluka (103) and Dario Šimić (100). Ivan Perišić is now only 2 matches away from joining the club.
Click here to see Croatia’s goal.
Croatia faces Malta on Tuesday night in the last qualifier until September.
Russia beat Slovenia also on Saturday to go to the top of the group with 6 points. Croatia and Slovenia have 3 points. Malta and Slovakia play later tonight.