UEFA Nations League: Croatia Tops Sweden 2:1 in Rainy Zagreb

Daniela Rogulj

Slobodan Kadic
Slobodan Kadic

Slobodan Kadic

October 11, 2020 – Croatia tops Sweden 2:1 in their 3rd-round Nations League match on Sunday at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb.

Croatia continued their Nations League campaign on Sunday against Sweden, a team they didn’t meet back in September. Croatia and Sweden met in rainy Zagreb at Maksimir Stadium at 6 pm. 

Coach Zlatko Dalic unveiled a slightly different lineup for this match, featuring Livakovic in goal, Melnjak, Caleta-Car, Lovren, and Uremovic in the back, Brozovic, Vlasic, Modric and Kovacic across the midfield, and Perisic and Brekalo up top.

Before this match, Croatia had played Sweden four times – in a friendly in 2003, in World Cup qualifiers in 2004 and 2005, and in another friendly in 2012, which is the only time they lost. 

The match began with heavy rain and a quick yellow card for Mateo Kovacic, who was cautioned in the first minute of play. While Sweden pressured Croatia’s goal within the first five minutes, Croatia picked up the pace and Brekalo even scored an offside goal in the 10th minute. The wet pitch certainly made things more difficult.

Modric had a chance in the 18th minute, which was saved by Sweden goalkeeper Olsen, though it didn’t stop him from shooting again moments later, albeit over the goal. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Sweden had their first real opportunity when Kulusevci shot in the 24th minute, though it was no problem for Livakovic to save. Vlasic took a chance at Sweden’s goal two minutes later.

However, Croatia and Nikola finally got their chance. A brilliant play by Modric at the midfield line saw Croatia attack up the pitch. Brekalo found the boot of Vlasic who scored for 1:0 in the 32nd minute!

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Slobodan Kadic

Vlasic shot again off a Modric corner found him just outside the top of the box, though he hit over the goal in the 38th minute. The game ended 1:0 at the half.

Unfortunately, the weather only worsened at the start of the second half, and we could only hope that the already weak Maksimir pitch wouldn’t flood. 

Croatia came out aggressively in the first few minutes, though it was Sweden to threaten Croatia’s goal in the 50th minute. What was nearly an own goal by Lovren was saved by Livakovic on the goal line to keep Croatia in the lead. Sweden, however, called for a penalty as it looked as though there was a Croatia handball in the box.

Brekalo had a great chance in the 52nd minute, which went wide of the goal for a corner.  

Sweden had another excellent chance in the 56th minute from a free-kick which Livakovic tipped over the goal then caught it to ensure Croatia’s lead. 

Pasalic was subbed on for Kovacic in the 60th minute.

A rocket from Perisic’s right boot saw the Sweden keeper make a difficult save for a Croatia corner in the 61st minute. 

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Slobodan Kadic

A quick Sweden counter-attack in the 65th minute saw Berg even the score for 1:1. The goal certainly gave Sweden momentum, as they picked up their game considerably in the minutes that followed. 

Andrej Kramaric and Domagoj Bradaric were subbed on for Brekalo and Melnjak in the 74th minute. 

Thankfully, Kramaric brought Croatia the luck they needed. In the 83rd minute, Perisic found Kramaric unmarked in the box, who scored for the Croatia lead! The game was now 2:1.

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Slobodan Kadic

A dangerous play by Sweden in the 89th minute could have leveled the result again, but Livakovic was solid in goal. The referee added 4 minutes, in which Sweden was unable to score. The match ended 2:1 for Croatia!

In their 4th-round match, Croatia will meet France on Wednesday in Zagreb at 8:45 pm. 

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