Wednesday, 24 March 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Slovenia Tops Croatia 1:0 in Ljubljana

March 24, 2021 - Slovenia tops Croatia 1:0 in the first round of qualifications for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday.

The 2018 World Cup finalists opened their qualification campaign at Stožice Stadium in Ljubljana against Slovenia on Wednesday, after which they will play Cyprus (Saturday, 6 pm) and Malta (Tuesday, 8:45 pm) at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka. Slovakia and Russia are also in Croatia's group.

Croatia had recorded six wins and three draws in nine games against Slovenia so far. 

Zlatko Dalić decided on an offensive lineup against Slovenia, playing a 4-3-3 formation. Modrić was in a more offensive role in front of the midfield, and Andrej Kramarić, Ivan Perišić, and Nikola Vlašić started from the first minute.

Matjaž Kek also played in a 4-3-3 formation, showcasing two players from the Croatian First League in the starting 11, namely Osijek's Damjan Bohar and Dinamo's Petar Stojanović


Slovenia: Oblak; Stojanović, Blažič, M. Mevlja, Balkovec; Bijol, Lovrić, Kurtić; Iličić, Šporar, Bohar

Croatia: Livaković; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Barišić; Kovačić, Brozović; Vlašić, Modrić, Perišić; Kramarić


Slovenia and Croatia kicked off at 8:45 pm in front of empty stands. Croatia maintained possession for the better part of the first 15 minutes and even had a few chances. Kramarić shot from the top of the penalty area in the 7th minute, only to be saved by Oblak, while Vlašić hit the inner post 3 minutes later.


Slobodan Kadic

Slovenia, however, capitalized on one of their first attacks, and Sandi Lovrić scored for the 1:0 Slovenia lead in the 16th minute.

It all started from a weak ball played back by Perišić. Vida's clearance eventually found Lovrić, who was left alone to score from 15 meters. 

Croatia had a few more chances in the first half, particularly from free-kicks, but nothing resulted in the equalizer. The match ended 1:0 for Slovenia at the half. 


Slobodan Kadic

Dalić subbed on Dinamo superstar Mislav Oršić for Borna Barišić (who was booked with a yellow card) to start the second half. 

Croatia attacked aggressively at the start of the second half, with Mislav shooting on target for an easy Oblak save.

In the 64th minute, Josip Brekalo was subbed on for Andrej Kramarić, hoping to add fresh legs to the offense. 


Slobodan Kadic

In the 69th minute, Ante Budimir came in for Vlašić, and Pašalić for Kovačić 10 minutes later.

Croatia had no problem pushing the attack but struggled immensely with finding the back of the net. It didn't help that Slovenia boasts one of the best keepers in the world. 


Slobodan Kadic

Spanish ref Antonio Mateu Lahoz added 3 minutes of injury time. Oršić hit wide of the goal in the final seconds for the Slovenia win. 

The match against Slovenia was Luka Modrić's 134th, equalizing Darijo Srna for the most national team caps ever. 

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