Tuesday, 29 March 2022

U21 Euro Qualifiers: Finland Gives Croatia First Defeat in Varaždin

March 29, 2022 - The young Croatia national team recorded their first defeat in the U21 Euro qualifiers on Tuesday, losing 2-3 to Finland in Varaždin. 

The U21 Croatia national football team recorded its first defeat in Group A of the Euro qualifiers. Finland celebrated 3-2 in Varaždin. 

Already after the first half, Finland shocked Croatia with three goals, with their hero being Naatan Skyttae. Finland took the lead in the 11th minute when Croatia goalkeeper Kotarski made a mistake, and Skyttae scored for 1-0.

The same player increased Finland's lead to 2-0 in the 29th minute, while he also assisted during stoppage time for Ablade to make it 3-0 for Finland at the half.

Croatia showed almost nothing in the first 45 minutes, while they played visibly better in the second half. In the 68th minute, Roko Šimić failed to score a penalty which was saved by the Finland goalkeeper Sinisalo, though not all hope was lost. Only two minutes later, Josip Šutalo scored a close-range header for 1-3.

The young Croatia side pressed until the end and found new hope in the 87th minute when Toni Fruk shot from the top of the penalty area and reduced the score to 2-3. But by the end, the result had not changed. Thus, after six victories, the Croatia U21 side recorded a draw (Austria 0-0) and a defeat (Finland 2-3) in the last week during the U21 Euro qualifiers. 

Fortunately, Igor Bišćan's team received good news from the Austria-Norway match, with Austria winning 2-1. Croatia thus kept a four-point advantage over Norway, while Austria has three points more than Norway in second place, but also a game less.

Croatia will still play against Norway (June 3) and Estonia (June 8). Only the winner of the group will qualify directly for the 2023 Euros.

European Championship Qualifiers, U21 (Group A):


1. Croatia 8 6 1 1 19-7 19
2. Austria 9 5 1 3 20-10 16
3. Norway 7 5 0 2 19-7 15
4. Finland 7 4 1 2 12-9 13
5. Azerbaijan 7 1 1 5 6-19 4
6. Estonia 8 0 0 8 0-23 0

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

U21 Euro Qualifiers: Croatia Beats Azerbaijan in Velika Gorica (2:0)

September 2, 2021 - The U21 Croatia national team defeated Azerbaijan at the start of the U21 Euro qualifiers in Velika Gorica.

The U21 Croatia national football team opened a new qualification cycle for the 2023 European Championship with a 2:0 victory against Azerbaijan in Velika Gorica. Croatia led 2:0 with goals by Sučić (10) and Šimić (24), and that result remained until the end. In the second half, Croatia had several good opportunities to increase its lead. 

Coach Igor Bišćan has many new and interesting young players at his disposal, such as RB Salzburg player Luka Sučić, who was very much wanted by Austria, but also young Hajduk player Stipe Biuk, who exploded for the Split club last season. In addition, there are also Bayern and Borussia Dortmund players, 21-year-old Josip Stanišić and 20-year-old Marco Pašalić, both of whom have already made their debut for their clubs. They were not available for today's match due to injuries.

Even without a few important players, it didn't take long for Croatia to dominate the game. In the third minute, Šimić had the first attempt, while Antonio Marin hit the post from a free kick in the seventh minute. However, Luka Sučić was more successful in that regard, scoring 1:0 from a free kick in the 10th minute. It was his national team debut.

It didn't take long to score the second goal. In the 24th minute, Roko Šimić scored for 2:0 from a Biuk assist.

The second goal was followed by a period of play in which Croatia possessed the game but was less threatening. Azerbaijan was largely powerless.

In the second half, Croatia continued at a steady pace. Croatia had possession, but the offensive ambitions still waned. Marin was closest to the goal in the 57th minute, Kačavenda in the 72nd minute, and Vidović in the 76th and 84th minute, but it remained 2:0 until the end.

Croatia lineup: Pandur, B. Šutalo, J. Šutalo, Krizmanić, Čolina, Franjić (from 80' Liber), Sučić (from 68' Pršir), Marin (from 80' Bušnja), Kačavenda, Biuk (from 68' Vidović), Šimić (from 68' Ljubičić).

The next match will be played against Finland in Oulu on September 7 at 5 pm.

Nine group winners and the best second-placed national team will directly qualify for the 2023 U21 European Championship. The remaining eight runners-up will play additional qualifiers to go to the Euros.

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Euro Qualifiers: Croatia U-21 Squad Tops Greece 5:0 in Varazdin

September 3, 2020 - The Croatia U-21 national football team remained in the game for a spot at the 2021 European Championship after toppling Greece 5:0 in Varazdin, inflicting their first defeat in the group.

Goals for Croatia were scored by Nikola Moro (1), Lovro Majer (5, 24), and Petar Musa (14, 52).

After recording two defeats in the first four rounds, and two home defeats at that, the Croatia U-21 national team did not have the chance to take Greece lightly.

The young Vatreni started the qualifying cycle for the European Championship with home defeats to Scotland and the Czech Republic and away victories against San Marino and Lithuania. There was a several-month break due to the coronavirus epidemic, and the continuation of the qualifications brought perhaps two key matches. The first against Greece has been settled, and in four days, Croatia is expected to play against the leading Czech Republic.

After coach Igor Biscan tested positive for the coronavirus and the entire professional staff ended up in self-isolation, the team was led by the main instructor of the Croatian Football Federation, Petar Krpan, and the coach of the Croatia U-17 side Tomislav Rukavina. While Biscan was the brains behind the composition, Krpan and Rukavina executed flawlessly.

The match was essentially over already just 24 minutes in as Croatia went up by four goals.

Croatia took the lead in the 45th second of the game. Sosa pulled up the left side and pushed into the middle; the ball bounced to the edge of the penalty area where Moro scored fantastically for 1:0. Just four minutes later, it was 2:0. Moro curved the ball into the penalty area where Majer headed in for the second goal. In the 14th minute, Musa was among the scorers, assisted by Spikic. Majer completed an incredible 25 minutes with his second goal on Sosa's assist.

In the continuation of the match, the rhythm dropped as expected, and the only goal was in the 52nd minute. Erlic ideally found Musa, who went around the goalkeeper Antonios Stergiakis and scored in an empty net.

With this victory, Croatia broke through to the third place of the group with nine points from five matches. Greece has a point more, while the Czech Republic is in the lead with 14 points from six matches.

The winners of nine groups and the five best second-placed teams will qualify directly for the Euros.

Source:  HRT

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