SERRAVALLE, 21 June 2019 – Croatia’s hopes have been dashed at the Under-21 European Championships after suffering their second loss at the tournament on Friday night.
After losing to Romania 4-1 in their first group match on Tuesday, a much better Croatia were slightly unlucky to go down to France 1-0 at the San Marino Stadium in Serravalle, San Marino.
Coach Nenad Gračan decided to leave captain Alen Halilović on the bench, whilst Josip Brekalo had not fully recovered from his injury he picked up against Romania and also started on the bench.
Once again, Croatia would fall behind to an early goal when Lyon striker Dembele headed home from a cross from the right after just 8 minutes.
Croatia reacted better to the early goal than they did in their opening match and almost found an equaliser after half an hour when a brilliant turn and through ball by Vlašić set off Jakoliš, but his shot would just shave the post.
Brekalo was introudced in the 62nd minute for Croatia as Gračan searched for a goal. The Wolfsburg attacker immediately made an impact when his run led to a shot from Moro which looked as if it was handled in the penalty box by a French defender, but the referee would wave play on.
In the 69th minute Croatia would come close again when substitute Kulenović shrugged off his defender, but his shot, with just the keeper to beat, would crash against the post.
Although Croatia looked most likely in the second half to score, they could not manage to find a goal. Croatia will now face England, who also lost both of their matches to Romania and France, on Monday in San Marino.