A young Croatia side, made up of mainly home-based players, has upset Mexico in front of 60,000 fans at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Two goals in two minutes in the first half were enough to give Croatia a 2-1 win in the nation’s first ever match on American soil.
Croatia was under pressure early on as Mexico found space on the right and fired in two dangerous crosses in the opening five minutes, however, they both eluded the Mexican players in the box.
A free-kick in a dangerous position in the 9th minute provided Croatia with their first opportunity, but the resulting cross into the box could not find a red and white chequered shirt.
Hajduk Split’s Nikola Vlašić, making his debut for Croatia, looked lively in the centre midfield role, creating a number of attacking opportunities in the opening half for his side. In the 16th minute, Čop had a chance to give Croatia the lead but his shot from close range was blocked.
Croatia came close again when Filipović, who found himself unmarked, fired his header wide from a Vlašić corner from five yards out.
Croatia took the lead in the 36th minute when Šunjić pounced on a loose ball in the box and squared it back across the face of goal to his captain Čop who made no mistake.
A minute later Croatia doubled their lead when Fran Tudor intercepted a poor back pass to round the Mexico keeper and slot the ball into the back of the net.
The faster, more experienced Mexicans enjoyed a lot of possession in the first half but failed to test Kalinić in the Croatian goal, and it was the underdogs who went into the break in front.
Mexico, shocked by the opening 45 minutes, opened the second half on the attack, testing Kalinić early on with two attempts on goal.
Mexico injected Carlos Vela into the match as they pressed for a goal, and in the 58th minute came close but Kalinić made a great save from a free-kick just outside the box. In the 64th it was Kalinić again who made a fine save preventing a Mexican header going in.
Mexico also introduced former Manchester United and Real Madrid player Chicharito as they threw everything at Croatia, and he almost immediately made an impact but a poor first touch let him down when he was free in the box.
Croatia went down to 10-men with 13 minutes remaining when Škorić received his second yellow card of the match and Mexico finally found a way through with five minutes to go when Chicharito headed home.
— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) May 28, 2017
Kalinić was Croatia’s hero in the second spell, making a number of crucial saves as Croatia hung on for the win.
CROATIA 2-1 MEXICO
Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
GOALS: Čop ’36, Tudor 37′, Chicharito 85′
CROATIA: Kalinić – Jedvaj, Nižić, Filipović, Barišić – Šunjić, Škorić, Vlašić (Miloš 90′), Tudor – Santini (Katić ’82), Čop (Majer 90′)
MEXICO: Ochoa – L. Reyes, Moreno, D. Reyes – Hernandez, Gutierez, Molina, Herrera, Layun – Lozano, Peralta