The Croatia U21s defeated Azerbaijan 5:1 in Sumgayit in the 2023 European Championship qualifiers on Tuesday. It was Croatia’s 4th game in Group A.
Igor Bišćan’s side thus recorded four victories in the first four rounds of qualifications, with a goal difference of 12:3, and leads the top of the group with 12 points.
Croatia did the job in the first 45 minutes when the excellent hat-trick was scored by the great Roko Šimić (9′, 13′, 44′ penalty). Nikola Soldo (25′) also scored in the first half, and the victory of Croatia was confirmed in the 81st minute by Josip Šutalo. The only goal scorer for Azerbaijan was Musa Gurbanli (55′ penalty).
The son of former Croatia star Darijo Šimić scored in the ninth minute on Kačavenda’s pass, and only three minutes later he scored the fourth goal in his fourth appearance for the U21 national team after a shot by Čolina and a bad intervention by goalkeeper Merbalijev.
In the 25th minute, Lokomotiva midfielder Soldo increased the lead to 3:0 after a free kick by Palaversa. Valizade played with his hand in the penalty area a minute before the end of the half, and Roko Šimić scored a hat-trick from the penalty spot in the first half.
Azerbaijan reduced the score in the 55th minute when Šutalo committed a foul on Gurbanli, and the same player was accurate from the penalty spot. In the 69th minute, Azerbaijan had to play with a man down after the exclusion of Valizade, and in the 81st minute, Šutalo hit the net with his head for the final 5:1.
In other group matches, Norway defeated Estonia 3:0 in Drammen, while Finland defeated Austria 3:1 in Tampere.
Croatia leads the table with a maximum of 12 points and a goal difference of 12:3, and Norway is second with nine points, the same as Austria with a game more.
After the introductory win against Azerbaijan in Velika Gorica (2:0), the young Croatia side celebrated 2:0 away against Finland, and last Friday in Varaždin, they defeated Norway 3:2.
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