Monday, 11 October 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia and Slovakia Draw 2:2 in Osijek

October 11, 2021 - Croatia and Slovakia draw 2:2 in Osijek on Monday as part of their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. 

After the Croatia national team convincingly won 3:0 against Cyprus on Friday, Croatia continued its 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in rainy Osijek against Slovakia on Monday.

Before this match, Croatia and Russia led Group H with 16 points each. 

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković - Stanišić, Vida, Gvardiol, Barišić - Brozović, Modrić - Ivanušec, Pašalić, Perišić - Kramarić

Slovakia: Rodak - Koscelnik, Šatka, Škriniar, Hancko - Hrošovsky, Kucka - Schranz, Hamšik, Haraslin - Almasi

Andrej Kramarić thus started at the top of the attack instead of Marko Livaja, Luka Ivanušec took over the right wing, while Borna Barišić filled in for Sosa on left back. Domagoj Vida returned to the stopper position and Ćaleta-Car moved to the bench, while Mario Pašalić was in the starting 11 instead of Nikola Vlašić.

Recall, Zlatko Dalić didn't have Mateo Kovačić available due to yellow cards.

Croatia possessed the game in the first 5 minutes, showing their dominance at home but without any real chances to score. Slovakia certainly pressed up the pitch in the minutes that followed and was awarded their first corner kick in the 9th minute. 

Brozovic and Modric had the best attacking play so far in the 11th minute though the Slovakia keeper denied a shot on goal.  

A Hamšik free kick in the 20th minute found the head on an unmarked Schranz who scored for the 0:1 Slovakia lead. 

Modrić angrily shot far post in the 24th minute which was deflected for a corner. Kramarić scored the equalizer with his head off Modrić's cross for 1:1 and his first national team goal in 13 games! 

Croatia almost took the lead nearing the 30th minute but the Slovakia keeper was brilliant to block Pašalić and keep the score even. Barašić shot two minutes later forcing the keeper to make another save. Kramarić's confidence from scoring could be seen on the pitch as the striker had another great chance. Brozović also tested the Slovakia keeper with a shot in the 37th minute. 

Haraslin, however, was the one to take the lead in the 45th minute for 1:2. Kramarić hit the post in the post in the final seconds of added time. The match ended 1:2 for Slovakia at halftime. 

Dalić subbed on Nikola Vlašić for Luka Ivanušec to start the second half. 

Slovakia came out with a few chances to start the second half, with close calls for Livaković. Kramarić had a brilliant chance in the 57th minute which he shanked off target. 

Pašalić came off for Brekalo in the 59th minute. Modrić had a shot on target in the 60th. 

Perišić and Vlašić had a nice play in the 65th minute which was hit wide of the goal. 

Livaja was subbed on for Stanišić in the 67th minute, showing Dalić's offensive strategy to not only get the equalizer but the win. 

Croatia was awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area in the 69th minute, and Croatia got their chance. Luka Modrić brilliantly hit the ball through the Slovakia wall for 2:2! 

Croatia was awarded another free kick a bit further outside of the penalty area in the 77th minute. Vida almost had a header in the goal in the next play. 

Just when we thought Croatia did it again after a stunning Kramarić ball into the box and Vlašić goal, the referee ruled it offside. 

Brozović almost put Croatia in the lead with 3 minutes to go but weakly shot at the keeper, and Vlašić missed in the 89th. 

The referee added 4 minutes of injury time to the end of the match, in which neither team could score. 

Croatia has two final qualifiers against Malta and Russia next month. 

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

Zlatko Dalić Reveals Changes in Croatia Starting 11 against Slovakia

October 10, 2021 - Zlatko Dalić addressed the press in Osijek on Sunday with captain Luka Modrić. The coach announced how the Croatia starting 11 against Slovakia would look, especially with the absence of Mateo Kovačić. 

A crucial 2022 World Cup qualifying match awaits the Croatia national team on Monday at 20:45 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. Croatia will face Slovakia in the 8th round of qualifications for the World Cup in Qatar. A possible victory would keep them in first place in the group ahead of the last two rounds held in November.

Two days ago, Croatia beat Cyprus 3:0 on the road and thus continued a series of winning results and a game without conceding a goal. Croatia is currently tied with Russia, which plays against Slovenia in Maribor on Monday.

Zlatko Dalić, as well as captain Luka Modrić, appeared before the press in Osijek at 17:00 at the final press conference before the match against Slovakia. Croatia's last training at City Garden is scheduled for 17:30. 

"We have to respect Slovakia; they are a top national team and can be tough. It doesn't matter who will play for them; we have to be good," said coach Zlatko Dalić at the beginning.

"Our goal is to win as many points as possible and secure a place in the World Cup. We know how much tomorrow's game means to us, perhaps the most important qualifying match. Russia has a difficult visit to Slovenia. This is a chance for us to get closer to Qatar with the victory," Dalić added.

Dalić announced changes in the defense, despite a good performance in recent games.

"We haven't conceded a goal in six games, but tomorrow is an important exam. As good as we were in Cyprus, it was not a benchmark. Tomorrow is a situation where we must not receive pain. We will make changes in the lineup, but not because someone played badly, but we want even more energy. We will put in a couple of fresh players; some of our players are not standard, so it is difficult to repeat two games in three days. Vida is returning to his position," Dalić explained and praised Osijek player Mile Škorić.

"He deserved the invitation, but the competition is great for him. So we will see; I would like the situation to open up for him," Dalić added.

"I am looking forward to the competition in the national team, players who bring new energy and strength. We have to confirm this to get continuity. Everyone works well, and whoever I play, I will not make a mistake," said the Croatia coach, who added that the atmosphere is good because the results and overall team play are good.

"The result dictates everything; we play well, so the atmosphere is great. What makes us happy is the atmosphere and the result; the atmosphere was not worse at the Euros, but the result was missing."

Mate Kovačić will not play due to yellow cards.

"Pašalić will replace him; he will go to his position. Because he is good in the end, and we miss such a player, he has the best of all players, so there is no dilemma. Pašalić will start," said Dalić and added that Duje Ćaleta-Car will not start from the first minute.

Source: HRT

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

Croatia Match-Worn Jerseys Up for Auction after Slovakia Qualifier

October 10, 2021 - Fans can bid on Croatia match-worn jerseys against Slovakia in an auction for the Vatreno Srce Foundation.

A real treat for jersey collectors and all fans of the popular Croatia national team shirts.

A humanitarian auction will start at www.matchwornshirt.com, where the Croatia national team jerseys from the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in Osijek will be on offer, announced HNS.

The tradition continues after the Croatia national football team became the first in the world to donate the jerseys from one competitive match (Croatia - Hungary, Euro 2020 qualifiers) to an online auction for humanitarian purposes, raising more than 30,000 euros for the Vatreno Srce Foundation, and did the same in one big competition (Croatia - Spain, Round of 16 of Euro 2020).

All Croatia national team players who will play against Slovakia will give away their jerseys for this auction, and their starting price will be 89 euros. The Vatreno Srce Foundation was founded and run by Croatia national team members and coaches. For years, they have been helping children and young people, such as donations to the Clinic for Children's Diseases and the Step into Life campaign.

The auction, which will offer Croatia match-worn shirts from the match against Slovakia, will begin with the first referee's whistle and will end on October 24 at 4 pm CET. All jerseys were professionally disinfected by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which means that all possible traces of viruses, bacteria, and DNA material were removed. Still, all other elements of the worn jersey were preserved, including embroidered Croatian and opponent's flags and the date of the match on the front of the jersey.

Join the auction at www.matchwornshirt.com/club/croatia, support the work of the Vatreno Srce Foundation and treat yourself or your loved ones to something they'll remember for a lifetime! 

Recall, Croatia and Slovakia meet on Monday at 20:45 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. This is Croatia's second qualifier in October after beating Cyprus 3:0 away on Friday last week. 

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Saturday, 9 October 2021

Ivica Olić Talks Luka Sučić Call Up and More Ahead of Croatia's Slovakia Qualifier

October 9, 2021 - Assistant coach Ivica Olić addressed the press on Saturday after Croatia's victory against Cyprus on Friday. The big news is that coach Zlatko Dalić called up the young Red Bull Salzburg star Luka Sučić to replace Mateo Kovačić in the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday. 

After a great 3:0 victory in Cyprus, the Croatia national football team will face Slovakia to continue the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Monday.

Croatia will play against Slovakia at home, at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. Today, the national team assistant coach, Ivica Olić, addressed journalists.

The former Croatia national team player initially spoke about the game against Cyprus.

"These are the games in which you can lose a lot and gain very little. We knew that Cyprus would hold a positive result, and until there was a two-goal difference for us, they held on. They relied mainly on defense and tried to shake us with counterattacks, but after the game, when we looked at everything again, Cyprus must be happy that it ended only 3:0."

Josip Stanišić, a member of Bayern Munich, made his national team debut.

"We have to be grateful to both Bayern and coach Nagelsmann for trusting him. Until this season, Stanišić spent practically all his time in the second team of Bayern, and with the injury of Pavard, he came to the fore and imposed himself. The reviews for such a young and ‘inexperienced’ player were great. When he decided to play for the Croatia national team, it was a matter of time before getting a chance. Juranović's injury dropped him out of the first 11, and in addition to a couple of initial mistakes, he played an excellent game against Cyprus."

Coach Zlatko Dalić invited RB Salzburg's Luka Sučić to join the national team. 

The RB Salzburg footballer is a standard first-team player of the best Austrian team and he regularly plays in the Champions League. He showed magnificent talent in only a few appearances for the young Croatian national team. On Friday in Varaždin, the Croatia U21s defeated Norway 3:2, and Sučić participated in all three goals, either as a scorer or as an assistant. 

"Luka had several great performances in the Champions League, he starts in the Austrian championship, he has been under our radar for a long time, and we thought about him at the last gathering. In that position, the competition is the biggest in Croatia, and it is not easy to be inside. However, he played great yesterday, he was one of the best, and I think he is a quality and potent player who has a great future ahead of him if injuries bypass him."

Ivica Olić hopes for great support from the fans and a good result in Osijek.

"We hear that ticket sales are going great, the stadium is always well filled here, and I do not doubt that it will be the same on Monday. Slovakia is a well-known opponent, which lost its ambition for first or second place after losing in Russia. They may not be motivated; I believe the coach will give a chance to other players. Sometimes they can be dangerous, but we have to concentrate on the last four games and take three points. We see that Russia is also taking points, and the last game may decide who directly qualifies for Qatar. There is no relaxation, we are going for three points, and I am sure that the audience will carry us to victory with a full stadium."

Mateo Kovačić will miss the match against Slovakia due to yellow cards.

"Kova is in great shape and is an integral part of this team. Every team lacks when there is no such player. But we have a wide choice here, and whoever comes in instead will be sure to do well.

Croatia and Russia are in a dead-even race, leading the table with 16 points each, six more than Slovenia, which also can qualify. Russia has two challenging away games in the remaining three games. The first is on Monday in Maribor, and the last round of qualifications is on November 14 at Poljud.

Russia celebrated minimally yesterday against Slovakia with an own goal by Skriniara, while Slovenia outclassed Malta away 4:0.

"I was surprised by Slovenia's big result, but I am glad that it ended that way, mathematically they are also candidates for second place. I hope that in the match against Russia, they can take at least one point, and I would like three. But we should not burden ourselves with that; the most important thing is that we continue to play like this. Of course, I want Slovenia to help, but we have a match point in the last game."

Ivica Olić commented on Andrej Kramarić's goal-scoring crisis in the national team.

"I was sorry that VAR annulled his goal. Every striker will undoubtedly be in a goal-scoring crisis for a while, and that happens to the best. Andrej played a good game against Cyprus and won a penalty kick. It is the team that won the game and the team that will get the attackers out of the mini-crisis. I do not doubt Andrej's quality, and I know that he will score again soon. Crises happen to everyone, but then a series of goals can follow."

Source: HRT

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Wednesday, 6 October 2021

PHOTOS: Luka Modrić Returns to Croatia Team ahead of Cyprus and Slovakia

October 6, 2021 - Captain Luka Modrić returns to Croatia for the first time since the EURO 2020 match against Spain! 

Ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia, the Croatia national team held a training, also attended by captain Luka Modrić. reports Gol.hr.

Since he missed the September qualifiers, Modrić played his last game in the national team jersey at the European Championship against Spain in June.

PXL_051021_90040800.jpeg

Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

Everyone could hardly wait for Luka's return to the national team, confirmed by assistant Vedran Ćorluka. Modrić arrived at the national team camp on Monday night, and on Tuesday night, had his first training session with Croatia after a long break.

Unfortunately, the national team lost Josip Juranović and Dejan Lovren before the October qualifiers, while Domagoj Vida will miss one game. Thus, Josip Stanišić, a Bayern player and the new star of Croatia, could make his debut as a right back.

"Lovren and Juranović will not come to the gathering. We agreed, due to their injuries and the current situation that they stay at their clubs and train. Juranović dropped out, and Lovren will not be with us for the first week, and we will see if he will be OK for the match against Slovakia. We have a situation with stoppers, but I wouldn’t say a problem either because we have a lot of quality in that part of the game. We activated the callups to Ćaleta-Car and Pongračić, they are in full training, although they did not play all the games," said Dalić on Monday. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić sees Stanišić in the first match against Cyprus, and maybe against Slovakia, played in Osijek on October 11 at 20:45.

Unfortunately, Mislav Oršić missed Tuesday's training due to ankle discomfort, and the medical team did not want to take any risks. However, the Dinamo player should be ready for the qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia.

Tuesday's training also featured goalkeeper Simon Sluga, who arrived as a replacement for the injured Ivica Ivušić.

On Monday, Croatia also trained at the Hitrec-Kacian auxiliary ground at Maksimir Stadium. Nikola Vlašić's 24th birthday celebration enhanced the already great atmosphere. 

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Monday, 20 September 2021

Luka Modrić Returns for Croatia's October World Cup Qualifiers

September 20, 2021 - Captain Luka Modrić returns for Croatia's October World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia.

The Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić invited 24 players, with six call-ups, to the qualifying matches against Cyprus and Slovakia in October, reports HNS.

After a very successful September, sitting at the top of the group with seven points in three games, the Croatia national team awaits the continuation of the European qualifications for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Croatia will play in Larnaca near Cyprus on October 8, and then they will host Slovakia on October 11 in Osijek.

The national team will gather on October 4 in Zagreb, where they will train until October 7 and then travel to Larnaca. They will travel to Osijek immediately after the match against Cyprus.

After missing the September qualifying campaign due to injury, Dalić's player list is again led by captain Luka Modrić.

"After a successful September, of course, we now welcome the new gathering with a lot of optimism, positive energy, and confidence. However, we must be aware that all the good we have done must now be confirmed with six more points and that we can only do so with the full concentration, approach, and togetherness we had at the last gathering. We have already beaten Cyprus and Slovakia in this cycle, and we accept the role of favorites in both games, but I repeat - we must be at our maximum. I am convinced that the invited players will successfully respond to this challenge, and of course, we are especially pleased with the return of Luka Modrić, who as a player and leader is of inestimable importance to us," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

List of players for Cyprus and Slovakia:

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivušić (Osijek), Ivo Grbić (Lille).

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Bešiktaš), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Borna Barišić (Glasgow Rangers), Josip Juranović (Celtic), Mile Škorić (Osijek), Filip Uremović (Rubin Kazan), Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Josip Stanišić (Bayern).

Midfielders : Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Nikola Vlašić (West Ham), Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo Zagreb), Kristijan Jakić (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Strikers: Ivan Perišić (Inter), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim), Josip Brekalo (Torino), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb), Marko Livaja (Hajduk).

Callups: Duje Ćaleta-Car (Olimpique de Marseille), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Antonio Mirko Čolak (Malmö), Simon Sluga (Luton Town), Kristijan Lovrić (Gorica), Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moskva).

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Sunday, 5 September 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Win Confirms Right Path, Says Dalić

September 5, 2201 - Croatia defeated Slovakia in their second match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers this month, taking a crucial 3 points to keep first place in the group. 

After beating Slovakia in Bratislava, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić said he was proud of the team's performance, primarily of the strong engagement of the players during the demanding away game.

With the triumph in Bratislava, Croatia kept first place in the group before the third consecutive September match in the qualifications for the World Cup in Qatar next year.

"Congratulations to our players on three points, but they deserve even greater congratulations for the energy, fighting spirit, and perseverance, which they showed throughout the game. That ultimately rewarded them with a victory. We played aggressively, combatively, compactly, trying in every way to score a goal. Unfortunately, we did not succeed, mostly because of a good, compact, and aggressive opponent, but also because of the really desperate terrain, which was a big problem for us. However, we took three points, did what we came to Bratislava for," says the coach Zlatko Dalić, whose team secured important points in the very end.

"We wanted to put pressure from the beginning of the game with three fresh players, highly raised Ivanušec, Čolak, and Oršić, because the field was terrible, and we knew that Slovakia likes to play over the backline. So we tried to be aggressive in that context and knew that we would give a chance to fresher, more rested players in the second half. Unfortunately, we didn't find the back pass and a real shot from a cross in the second half either, and the field really had a great impact on the game. And then, when the 80th minute came, I was afraid that we might be punished, In the end, we scored a goal."

After the game, the coach greeted Croatia fans in the stands.

"We should thank the people who managed to come to the game through some of their channels and support Croatia. It's really nice, I thank them for coming, and I think we made a nice base for Split and Poljud. I hope that the stands will be full."

Dalić spoke about the stressful period after the Euros: 

"It's hard and stressful, it's not easy, but people from my staff, who are very active, help me a lot. Ladić was at the matches between Slovenia and Slovakia and Slovenia and Malta, and with me are Olić, Ćorluka, and Pletikosa. We try to be even more compact and better, correct some of our mistakes and the pressure… I don’t follow, and I don’t watch, I do the best I can, and I can’t ban stories and comments; everyone has a right to them. I am glad that the players accept everything we agreed on in the meeting, and how they fought today is proof of how much they care and confirmation that the atmosphere is much better now. We have made a huge step forward without Luka Modric."

Up next is Slovenia in Split.

"I hope that we will take three more points against Slovenia and that in this September part of the qualifications we will get what we were looking for, a positive atmosphere and a big step forward. Here, look at the team that played today… All national team players play in their clubs, they are in shape, they have consistent playing time. That was very important. This game is a real indicator that we are on the right path, and there is no reason to give up. True, some players played both games, Juranović, Sosa, Brozović, Kovačić. However, it feels like Vlašić is a little tired. We will have to think about changes because it is difficult to expect all these players to be at the same level in the third game in a week." 

Another big winner in Bratislava is Ivica Ivušić, who replaced the injured Dominik Livaković in goal and saved Croatia on several occasions.

"I have to praise Ivušić; he pulled us out of some situations. He has constantly been defending for Osijek for two years. He is the most standard goalkeeper in the HNL. How did we decide between Ivušić or Sluga? The goalkeeper's coach Marijan Mrmić decided, and we supported his decision. In any case, Ivica bought a place in the national team with this match," concluded Dalic.

Source: HNS

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Sunday, 22 August 2021

EuroVolley 2021: Croatia Beats Slovakia, Continues Winning Streak in Zadar!

August 22, 2021 - In the 3rd round of the European Volleyball Championship in Zadar (2021 EuroVolley), Croatia beats Slovakia 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-13), reaching its third victory in Group C. 

The Croatia women's volleyball team recorded its third victory without losing a set in Group C at the European Championship, which is hosted by Zadar.

After victories against Switzerland and Belarus, Daniele Santarelli's team defeated Slovakia 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-13. Slovakia took the 10-6 lead, followed by an advantage of 19-12. Croatia finally woke up, Klara Perić took the serve and Croatia achieved a 6-0 series which kept them alive in the first set. After one point went to Slovakia, Croatia achieved a new series and won the first set 25-21. 

Croatia continued its momentum at the beginning of the second set. On Božena Butigan's serve, they scored six consecutive points for 8-1 and increased their advantage to 24-11. A similar situation happened in the third set. Croatia took the lead early, made it 14-5, and easily brought the game to an end. 

Croatia thus leads the group with a maximum of nine points from three matches, while Slovakia is still without points after the second game.

Croatia will play the next match in Group C on August 24 at 5 pm against Hungary, and on August 25 at 9 pm against Italy. A victory on Tuesday would secure one of the first two places in the group, while Wednesday would be the match for first place in the group.  

A better position in the group ensures a nominally weaker opponent in the round of 16.

Zadar is the host of Group C at the European Women's Volleyball Championship, while Belgrade, Plovdiv, and Cluj-Napoca are the other host cities. Before the start of the tournament, Croatia was expected to finish 2nd in the group. 

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 29 April 2021

EHF EURO Cup: Croatia Handball Winning Streak Continues with Win against Slovakia

April 29, 2021 - The Croatia handball winning streak continued on Wednesday night after defeating Slovakia in Varaždin.

After Hungary and Spain, the Croatia men's senior national team also beat Slovakia in the EHF EURO Cup (32:24) and continued their winning streak. In three competition games, Croatia has recorded three victories. There will be a rematch in Varaždin tonight. 

SLOVAKIA: T. Paul 4/12, M. Žernovič 7/31, P. Hruščak - / -, T. Rečičar - / -, M. Briatka 1/2, J. Prokop 3/6, T. Urban 6/7, L. Duriš 2/4, L. Pechy 1/4, M. Kovačech 1/3, T. Bornar 1/1, L. Urban 2/2, D. Calafut 4/6, M. Slaninka 2/2, M. Jakub 1/4 Coach: Peter Kukučka

CROATIA: I. Pešić 8/38, M. Mandić 2/8, L. Mihić 5/5, A, Gadža 4/4, V. Načinović - / -, T. Kušan 2/2, I. Čupić 2/4, L. Šebetić 4/5, V. Matanović 1/2, D. Mandić 5/6, N. Grahovac 1/1, T. Lučin 2/6, M. Maraš 4/6, L. Šušnja 1/2, F. Grubisic 1/2, D. Pavlović 1/2 Coach: Hrvoje Horvat

Of the 18 players available, coach Hrvoje Horvat decided to send Karel Godec and Fran Mile to the stands. The new extremely young Croatia, with as many as seven debutants, and without a whole series of their stars, started the match with Pešić in goal, D. Mandić on the left, I. Čupić as the captain on the right, L. Šušnja as the pivot, and Domagoj Pavlović, Tin Lučin and Luka Šebetić on the outside positions.

Both teams started with a 6:0 defense. Croatia's defense reacted brilliantly in the opening. They stole three balls from Slovakia and, in less than five minutes, went to 5:1. Ivan Pešić had several saves, and in the 13th minute, it was 7:3.

Slovakia was saved from a complete flood of goals in that period thanks to the excellent Marian Žernovič, who collected six saves in the 15th minute. Slovakia also changed the defense and reached a 7:7 draw. 

Horvat rotated a lot in the first half. Given the huge number of players who found themselves on the court together for the first time, the game was not as fluid and beautiful as expected. However, Croatia did not allow Slovakia to take the lead for a single moment. In fact, at the end of the first half, Croatia scored a 6:0 series and left Slovakia without a goal for eight minutes. Croatia calmly went to the break with a six-goal difference (16:10).

It took Croatia a full three minutes to score the first goal in the second half. Admittedly, even more for Slovakia. Croatia's net finally shook for the 11th time after four and a half minutes of play. Croatia's defense was very mobile and aggressive, and Slovakia called a timeout after only seven minutes of play because Croatia was already nine goals ahead (20:11). Croatia's biggest advantage was +11. Debut goals were scored by Kušan, Maraš, Grubišić, Lučin. 

Croatia's best scorers were David Mandić and Lovro Mihić, with five goals each. Tomas Urban was best for Slovakia with six goals.

 

Source: HRS

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Saturday, 16 November 2019

Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Croatia Tops Slovakia in Rijeka, Secures Euro Spot!

November 16, 2019 - The Croatia national team and Slovakia met in Croatia's final Euro 2020 qualifier of Group E on Saturday night at Rujevica stadium in Rijeka. 

Croatia played their final qualifying match for placement in the European Championship next year on Saturday night in rainy Rijeka to just over 8200 fans.

Dalic's side was without World Cup stars Ivan Rakitic, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida and Andrej Kramaric, and played with a younger squad that included Dominik Livakovic, Tin Jedvaj, Duje Caleta-Car, Dino Peric, Borna Barisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric, Ante Rebic, Nikola Vlasic, Ivan Perisic and Bruno Petkovic. Recall, Croatia defeated Slovakia 4:0 in Trnava back in September. Croatia started the game at the top of Group E. 

Croatia had their first attack of the game already in the second minute - Perisic crossed into the box though Slovakia defended. Bruno Petkovic forced Croatia's first corner in the 4th minute. Modric played it short to Borna Barisic, who failed to get a good shot in. 

A brilliant play by Nikola Vlasic found Petkovic, who played the ball to Modric. Modric's shot was defended by the Slovakia defense, though the play ultimately resulted in a corner. 

Slovakia's first corner came in the 11th minute, though Barisic had no problem clearing it out. Slovakia was beginning to attack, but Croatia's defense remained solid. 

Croatia was beginning to press but was unable to string plays together in the box. Another corner in the 20th minute saw Caleta-Car head the ball into the keeper. 

Nikola Vlasic played Brozovic in the 24th minute, which he hit wide of the goal. A brilliant Modric cross found the head of Vlasic moments later, which the keeper tapped over the goal for a corner, though they were unable to capitalize. 

Slovakia was dangerous in the 29th minute though Livakovic was there to save the day. Croatia seemed to control the game with 15 to go in the first half. However, one minute later, Slovakia had their chance - Bozenik scored for 0:1. 

Croatia picked up their game in the minutes that followed and pressed Slovakia's defense. Perisic almost scored the equalizer, though the Slovakia keeper was quicker to the ball. 

In the 38th minute, Petkovic fired at the keeper who made a brilliant save to keep Slovakia in the lead. The atmosphere at Rujevica was dulling. Slovakia had two more dangerous attacks with a minute to go and Croatia's fragile defense was lucky it wasn't more. One last attack for Croatia was unfruitful. The game ended 0:1 at the half. 

Dalic made no changes to the lineup to begin the second half. 

A Croatia corner in the 53rd hit the post.  Another corner in the next play saw Rebic hit over the goal. Josip Brekalo went in for Rebic in the 53rd. 

Croatia was pressing and the fresh legs helped. They finally had their chance in the 55th minute - Nikola Vlasic scored for 1:1! 

A quick counter for Croatia in the 58th resulted in a corner, which found the head of Bruno Petkovic for 2:1! The Dinamo star almost had his second goal in the 61st but shot at the keeper. Brekalo shot from outside the box moments later but hit over the goal. The atmosphere at Rujevica was far better in the second half. 

Slovakia's Hak received his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute and was forced to play a man down for the rest of the game. 

Perisic played a perfect through ball to Brekalo in the 70th though the keeper pushed him to the goal line for an out. 

Croatia was on fire - and a brilliant cross by Barisic found the foot of Perisic for a volley into the goal. The game was now 3:1! 

Mateo Kovacic came on for Nikola Vlasic in the 74th minute.  

Croatia had another stellar chance in the 77th - Brekalo stole the ball from the Slovakia defender, played Modric to Petkovic, who played Perisic, though he shot just wide of the goal. 

Brekalo had an unlucky shot at the keeper in the 80th. Mislav Orsic was subbed on for Perisic in the 81st.

A few more attacks in the final minutes of the game proved unsuccessful, and the game ended 3:1 for Croatia! 

With this win, Croatia finishes at the top of Group E and secures their spot at the Euros next summer! 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

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