World Cup 2018: Croatia 2-1 Iceland
- by croatiaweek
- in Sport
Croatia will meet Denmark in the Round of 16 on Sunday after topping Group D.
Croatia has gone through the group stages unbeaten after a 2-1 win against Iceland in Rostov on Tuesday night.
With a last 16 spot already confirmed, Zlatko Dalic made 9 changes with only captain Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic retained from the from the side which beat Argentina 3-0 last Thursday.
After a quiet opening with little action, Iceland started to gain control and apply pressure. In the 29th minute Iceland went close when Magnusson’s header went wide, then two minutes later keeper Lovre Kalinic saved Sigurdsson’s free kick.
Bjarnason’s effort was then blocked in the box in the 34th minute before Kalinic was again called upon to make a fine save from Gunnarsson. Croatia, with most players looking out of match form, were lucky to go into the break level at 0-0.
Croatia looked more energetic at the start of the second spell and nearly took the lead in the match in the 51st minute but Milan Badelj’s rocket from outside the box crashed against the crossbar.
Badelj didn’t have to wait long though as two minutes later he found himself unmarked in the box to hammer in a cross from Pivaric to give Croatia a 1-0 lead.
Kalinic kept Croatia ahead shortly after with a fine save from a header before Ingason watched his header rattle the crossbar from the resulting corner. Dalic took off captain Modric and Marko Pjaca limped off as Iceland starting to press for an equaliser.
After a couple of half chances, Iceland drew level in the 74th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Dejan Lovren was adjudged to have handled in the box. Sigurdsson made no mistake from the spot.
Both sides pushed for a winner with Dalic introducing Rakitic for Kovacic. Rakitic came close with a free-kick and Kramaric shot just wide from inside the box before Perisic scored the winner in the 90th minute with a left-foot shot past the Iceland keeper.
Argentina’s 2-1 win over Nigeria means they advance with Croatia from Group D. Croatia will now meet Denmark in the Round of 16 on Sunday 1 July in Nizhny Novgorod, the same venue where they beat Argentina.
“It was a difficult match and very humid. We have 9 points which is important for us. It was a deserved win in the end but it was not easy. Denmark awaits but we have shown our quality and we can do a lot,” said Kovacic.
CROATIA – ICELAND 2:1
World Cup, Group D
GOALS: Badelj 53′, Sigurdsson 71′ (P) Perisic 90′
CROATIA: L. Kalinić; Pivarić, Ćaleta-Car, Ćorluka, Jedvaj; Badelj, Modrić (Bradarić 64′); Perišić, Kovačić (Rakitić), Pjaca (Lovren 70′); Kramarić
ICELAND: Halldorsson; Saevarsson, Ingason, R. Sigurdsson, Magnusson; Gunarsson, Hallfredsson; G. Sigurdsson, Gudmundsson, Bjarnasson; Finnbogason