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National Teams > Men > A

Road to Russia continues

Kramarić brace
secures Croatia
play-off spot

Kramarić brace secures Croatia play-off spot
photo by: HNS
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Croatia national football team makes it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup play-offs following the 2:0 victory in Ukraine.

2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, Group I.
Olympic NSC, Kiev.

Referee: F. Brych (Germany)

Goals: 0:1 - Kramarić (62'), 0:2 - Kramarić (70')

Cautions: Stepanenko (60'), Rotan (64')

Ukraine: Pyatov, Matviyenko, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Karavaev, Stepanenko, Rotan (69' Sydorchuk), Konoplyanka, Marlos (78' Besedin), Yarmolenko, Garmash (66' Kovalenko). Head coach: A. Shevchenko.

Croatia: Subašić, Vrsaljko (85' Pivarić), Mitrović, Lovren, Vida, Badelj, Modrić, Rakitić, Perišić, Kramarić (88' Pašalić), Mandžukić (90' Rog). Head coach: Z. Dalić.

The Vatreni have completed Group I competition with a victory at Olympic NSC in Kiev against the Ukrainian hosts, securing the runner-up position and a play-off spot.

Led by the new head coach, Zlatko Dalić, Croatia was once again troubled by injuries. Ćorluka, Kovačić, N. Kalinić, Brozović, Pjaca, Jedvaj, and Barišić were all unavailable, while Mandžukić and Lovren managed to recover.

In the opening minute, Mandžukić was close with a header, as was Vida with a long-distance effort on 17 minutes. However, Ukraine then took the initiative and threatened Subašić through Rakitskiy, Stepanenko, and Konoplyanka efforts. 

It was still goalless at the break, but Croatia was in control in the second half. On 62 minutes, captain Modrić's cross found Kramarić, whose header beats Pyatov to give visitors the lead.

Just eight minutes later, Vrsaljko's long ball to Rakitić was distributed by Barcelona midfielder to Kramarić at the far post, and Croatia striker was cold-blooded to double the advantage.

Zlatko Dalić's men calmly kept the 2:0 lead to win all three points. Celebrating the win, they expect the play-off draw on Tuesday, 17 October. 

Courtesy of a home win over Kosovo (2:0), Iceland remained at the top spot and will play at the World Cup in Russia. Finland and Turkey shared the spoils (2:2).

2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, Group I:
1. Iceland 22
2. Croatia 20
3. Ukraine 17
4. Turkey 15
5. Finland 9
6. Kosovo 1

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