The Croatian Under-21 national team played 0:0 against Austria in the qualifying match for the European Championship in Varaždin. Croatia was the favorite but failed to win.
It was Croatia’s first draw in these qualifiers. So far, they have had six victories in six games. Igor Bišćan’s team remained in first place in the group with 19 points, while Austria is in third with 13 points and practically lost their chances for first place. Norway is second with 15 points and a game less than Croatia.
Croatia coach Igor Bišćan decided to play with three stoppers from the first minute. Mario Vušković, Josip Šutalo, and Josip Stanišić played in the back, Franjić and Boško Šutalo as the wing defenders, Palaversa and Sučić in the middle, while Kačavenda, Marin and Šimić played up top.
Both teams looked like their primary goal was not to concede a goal in the first half. There was only one shot on target in the first 45 minutes. In the 13th minute, Stanišić shot from the right side, and Josip Šutalo with his head, but they were too weak to endanger the Austria goalkeeper Hedl.
Austria suffered several serious fouls in the middle of the first half. Fortunately, no one was hurt. In the second half, both teams had more chances.
Kacavenda received his second yellow card in the 82nd minute and was sent off. He committed a foul during Croatia’s attack. He complained to the referee, who showed him his second yellow card.
It was a challenging game with few chances, said coach Bišćan.
“Tough. Quite organized on both sides, the teams came up with a clear plan. I think Austria has shown that it is a serious team. The match was competitive, there was not much beauty in it until the middle of the second half and then when we seemed to be close to the goal, that we imposed ourselves enough to create another chance, that a goal was close, then a red card happened, and in the end, we had to keep that result. It is as what is, but with that point, we put ourselves in a good position and not so much worse than we were before this game. In the next game, they will be motivated to beat Norway, and we have Finland at home, and we believe that we can win that game, and then after eight games, we would be in a good situation. We are not the most satisfied because we did not win and continue that series, but we should congratulate the guys; I am satisfied because we played a serious game.”
Croatia will play its next qualifier on Tuesday, March 29, against Finland.
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