A brace from Atletico Madrid striker Mario Mandžukić, which were both tap-ins either side of half-time, spared coach Niko Kovač any headaches ahead of next weeks clash. Kovač made a number of changes to the side that last turned out against Mexico at the World Cup in Brazil, giving game time to Andrej Kramarić, Alen Halilović, Marcelo Brozović, Tin Jedvaj and Duje Čop. 17-year-old Halilović showed glimpses of why Barcelona signed him this summer from Dinamo Zagreb, having an impressive match before being taken off in the 69th minute.
“All in all I am happy with today’s performance. Realistically we could have scored 2-3 more goals but we are happy with the win. Only one thing I was not happy with was some cases in the first half where we lost possession. But I am happy. Ivan Rakitić will be back next Tuesday for Malta,” said coach Kovač after the victory.