Croatia faced Ukraine in Zagreb at Maksimir Stadium as part of the European qualifier for World Cup 2018 in Russia. Croatia claimed victory over Ukraine with a score of 1:0.
To say that the atmosphere at Maksimir was loud would be an understatement. Croatian fans were hungry to see their beloved “Vatreni” play at home once again and after two years without fans, Maksimir was thundering with chants of love, pride, and excitement for the Croatian footballers. The stadium was at capacity, with over 27,000 in attendance.
After opening the European qualifications with a draw against Turkey, followed by three consecutive victories over Kosovo, Finland, and Iceland, Croatia managed to continue their winning streak and claimed victory over Ukraine. Croatia was also missing three of their top players for the match: Ivan Perišić, Vedran Ćorluka, and Šime Vrsaljko reports HNS on March 25, 2017.
While Mandžukic hit the post in the 14th minute, Croatia took another step towards competing in the World Cup 2018 in Russia thanks to a goal by Nikola Kalinić in the 38th minute. The play began from Luka Modrić to Ivan Rakitić who flicked the ball behind him to Kalinić, who scored one of the greatest goals in the history of the Croatian national team. Take a look below.
The second half was a bit less exciting, but both teams continued to provide a good game for their fans.
While Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subašić had to defend a shot by Konoplyanka in the 78th minute, there was even a last chance for Croatian favorite Luka Modrić a few minutes before the end. Ultimately, the game ended in a satisfying 1:0 for Croatia.
With Nikola Kalinić proving once again how dangerous he is in front of the net, Croatia achieved their goal to remain at the top of the qualification group, with three points over Iceland. Ukraine has experienced their first defeat and has now fallen into third place.
As for everyone else in Group I, Turkey defeated Finland at home 2: 0, and Iceland defeated Kosovo away with 2:1. In June, Iceland will meet Croatia, Kosovo will meet Turkey, and Finland will meet Ukraine.
World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Group I:
1. Croatia 13
2. Iceland 10
3. Ukraine 8
4. Turkey 8
5. Finland 1
6. Kosovo 1