PORTO, 5 September 2020 – Portugal have continued their unbeaten streak against Croatia after the two countries met in the UEFA Nations League, League A, Group 3 clash in Porto on Saturday night.
A goal just before halftime and three in the second spell was enough to give the reigning Nations League champions a comfortable 4-1 victory at an empty Estadio do Drago.
Croatia, missing captain Luka Modrić and vice-captain Ivan Rakitić, started the match with the young midfield quartet of Mateo Kovačić, Mario Pašalić, Ante Rebić, and Josip Brekalo. Donagoj Vida was given the captain’s armband for the third time.
Portugal should have gone ahead earlier in the first half but keeper Domagoj Livaković was in fantastic form. In the 19th minute, he would save from Joao Cancelo, before making two brilliant saves from close range.
Portugal went close again in the 27th minute but Diogo Jota could only watch his attempt hit the post. Guerreiro would then hit the post minutes later as Croatia desperately hung on.
The hosts would eventually take a deserved lead in the 41st minute when Joao Cancelo’s left-foot shot from outside the box would be parred into the top corner.
Andrej Kramarić had a shot go wide near the end of what was a half where Croatia did not test the Portuguese keeper.
Croatia, wearing their new black kit for the first time, could not keep possession when they would have the ball and it was no surprise when doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Jota was put free, calmly beating Livaković after Croatia gave the ball away in their own half.
Coach Zlatko Dalić immediately made some changes, bringing on Ivan Perišić for Brekalo and Marcelo Brozović for Pašalić.
Dominating possession, Portugal was starting to play with the Croatian defence and after a series of passes, Joao Felix would make it 3-0 with a powerful shot from the edge of the box which Livaković could only deflect in.
Croatia had a couple of half-chances late in the match to get a consolation goal and substitute Bruno Petković would get one back in injury time when he nicely would finish off a Rebić pass.
With the last kick of the game, Silva managed to stab home at the back post after Pepe headed down from a corner.
Croatia now heads to Paris where they will take on the World Cup winners on Tuesday night.