Friendly Between Croatia and Georgia Ends 2:1 in Pula

Daniela Rogulj

November 19, 2019 – After qualifying for Euro 2020 at Rujevica Stadium on Saturday with a win against Slovakia, the Croatia national team played a friendly match against Georgia in Pula. 

Georgia finished fourth in their Euro 2020 qualifying group behind Denmark, Switzerland, and Ireland, but will participate in additional qualifications for the Euro in March. Namely, Georgia welcomes Belarus at home in the Nations League ‘D League’ tournament, and if they win that match, they will play the winner of North Macedonia – Kosovo.

The Croatia national team had played against Georgia twice before the friendly on Tuesday, both in competitive matches. Croatia and Georgia met first as part of the 2012 European Championship qualifiers in Poland and Ukraine. They lost in Tbilisi 1:0 thanks to a Kobiasvili goal in the 90th minute. The second time the teams met was in Split when they celebrated thanks to goals by Mandzukic and Kalinic in the 76th and 78th minutes.

Thus, on Tuesday, in front of just over 4,000 fans, Croatia and Georgia met for the third time. Standard captain Luka Modric left the squad early to rejoin his club in Madrid, leaving Ivan Perisic to captain the team for the friendly. Dalic set out with a team of players who had never played together before tonight. The lineup included goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic – Karlo Bartolec, Tin Jedvaj, Mile Skoric, Dario Melnjak – Milan Badelj, Mateo Kovacic – Ivan Perisic, Mario Pasalic, Ante Rebic – Mislav Orsic.

Croatia was a bit shaky at the start of the first half, which saw Georgia take the lead in the 19th minute thanks to a goal by Giorgi Papunashvili. It didn’t take long for Croatia to equalize, however, and just six minutes later, a Croatia free-kick saw Kashia score an own goal for 1:1. Croatia had a few promising chances for the remainder of the half, though it ended 1:1. 

At the start of the second half, Dalic subbed Simon Sluga in goal for Lovre Kalinic. Duje Caleta-Car came in for Tin Jedvaj, Josip Juranovic came in for Karl Bartolec, and Marko Rog played for Mislav Orsic.

It didn’t take long for Croatia to score their second goal. A stunning cross from Josip Juranovic found the head of Ivan Perisic, who scored for 2:1 in the 53rd minute!

In the 65th minute, Nikola Vlasic came in for Mateo Kovacic, and Dino Peric came in for Mario Pasalic in the 75th. A downpour made it difficult for either team to score, and the game ended 2:1 for Croatia.

This is the final game of the Croatia national team in 2019. 

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