Croatia have beaten Israel 2-0 on a miserable evening on Wednesday night in Osijek as they build-up towards Euro 2016…
Croatia, who were missing Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić, who was out with a calf strain, showed their class in patches on a pitch not conducive to free-flowing football.
Despite Israel starting well, it was Croatia who took the lead with their first attack in the 3rd minute of the game. Inter Milan connection Marcelo Brozović and Ivan Perišić combined for the first goal which saw Perišić nicely volley home Brozović’s cross.
Croatia could have doubled their lead in the 12th minute when Perišić, who created havoc down the left in the first half, put Nikola Kalinić through, but his cross was just a shade out of reach for fellow striker Mario Mandžukić.
Israel had a chance to get back in the game in the 23rd minute but failed to capitalise when Croatia keeper Danijel Subašić fumbled a cross. Croatia should have gone 2-0 up in the 26th minute when Luka Modrić put Perišić through down the left. His cross was deflected by a defender against the post, and Darijo Srna’s rebounded effort was well saved by Israel keeper Kleyman.
The large crowd at Gradski vrt stadium didn’t have to wait long for Croatia to double their lead however. It was the hard-working Brozović who put his name on the score sheet when he drilled home following Mandžukić’s effort which rebounded off the post in the 34th minute.
In the second half coach Ante Čačić made a number of substitutions, bringing on Sporting Gijon’s Alen Halilović and Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovačić.. The deteriorating state of the pitch and the large number of substitutions contributed to the drop in tempo in the second half.
With the result already in the bag Croatia took their foot of the gas and Israel started to enjoy a lot more possession. Substitute keeper Lovre Kalinić, who was stopped by paperwork from joining Aston Villa in January, impressed when he was called on to make a couple of saves.
Croatia had chances in the last five minutes of the match to make it three, with the tricky Kovačić and Halilović combining well to open up the Israeli defence, however the final finish was lacking.
Čačić will be happy with what he saw in the first spell, with Croatia controlling the match and creating a number of chances. The second half would not have pleased him as much, as too the injury to captain Srna. Srna was taken off just before half time with a shin injury.
Croatia: Subašić (Kalinić) – Vida, Ćorluka (Schildenfeld), Lovren – Srna (Vrsaljko), Modrić (Antolić), Badelj (Halilović), Brozović, Perišić – Mandžukić (Antolić), N. Kalinić (Kovačić)
Israel: Kleyman – Tibi, N. Bitton, Tawatha, Gershon, Kehat, B. Bitton, Buzaglo, Dabbur, Ben Chaim, Hemed.