Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Croatia Cruise past Greece, Switzerland Down Ireland


He said "The Croatian team is in a good position going into the second leg, and it will be quite hard for us to come up with again, but, it's alright, we have another 90 minutes".

Left-back Ivan Strinic, who only featured in the opening 1-1 home draw with Turkey, delivered a classy performance as did right back Sime Vrsaljko and both racked up assists as Croatia raided the flanks nearly at will. The second leg of Croatia-Greece and Northern Ireland-Switzerland will take place on Sunday.

Croatia fired on all cylinders when they needed to most under new coach Zlatko Dalic as a 4-1 home rout of Greece on Thursday vindicated his hasty appointment after their World Cup qualifying campaign had threatened to collapse.

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An early mistake from the apparently lead-footed Greek goalkeeper gave Croatia an early lead off a penalty kick and from there the match took off. However the ensuing corner did bring a ray of hope for Michael Skibbe's side as Sokratis connected with a header at the back post, looping the ball back across goal and into the opposite corner.

"We must root out any complacency immediately and head to Greece as if the score was 0-0", said Dalic after his second game in charge since taking over from Ante Cacic.

Some good work down the left flank by Ivan Strinic culminated in a simple cross to Kalinic, who converted with a sumptuous flick to give the home side a commanding lead.

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Croatia were on course to qualify automatically with three games remaining in Group I but a surprise defeat to Turkey and a draw with Finland allowed Iceland to nip ahead.

As if conceding three goals in the first half had not been enough, Costas Stafylidis committed yet another error in the Greek defense on the 49th minute, as he tried to chest the ball back to Karnezis. "I know, I've played for Barcelona vs Olympiakos".

Hoffenheim hotshot Andrej Kramaric effectively settled the first-leg four minutes after the restart, tapping in from close range to leave Greece with it all to do in Sunday's return fixture in Piraeus.

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Put simply Greece were embarrassing in this game, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

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