The Croatia national team continued their qualification cycle for the 2022 World Cup against Russia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Coach Zlatko Dalic faced a problem before the start of the match. Gvardiol, who was supposed to play stopper with Lovren, felt muscle tightening before kick-off. Duje Ćaleta-Car entered the starting lineup instead. Recall, Luka Modrić did not travel with the team to Russia due to an injury.
Russia: Guilherme; Mario Fernandes, Diveev, Dzhikiya, Karavayev; Kuzyayev, Barinov, Golovin; Ionov, Miranchuk, Zakharyan
Croatia: Livaković; Juranović, Lovren, Ćaleta-Car, Sosa; Brozović, Kovačić; Vlašić, Pašalić, Perišić; Kramarić
The match started with a Russia attack which was no problem for Livaković. Good movement up Croatia’s wings saw a few balls played into the penalty area but went short to Russia’s keeper. Croatia’s first corner of the match was in the 11th minute. Ćaleta Car’s header went high over the goal.
Russia’s most dangerous opportunity came in the 14th minute with a rocket from Zakharyan, but Livaković’s fingertips forced it out for a corner.
Croatia began attacking more aggressively in the 5 minutes that followed, with crosses lobbed into the box by both Sosa and Juranović.
While Croatia maintained possession they maintained their calm and didn’t attack Russia’s goal much from the 30th minute. Russia, however, also had trouble giving Livaković much work to do.
Croatia’s best chance came in the 40th minute with a world-class through ball from Kovačić. The Russia keeper beat Kramarić to it by a millisecond, thus ending the play. Another great chance happened two minutes later. A brilliant Juranović cross into the box went off Pašalić’s head to Perišić who just shot wide of the goal.
The match ended 0:0 at the half after a much more offensive Croatia in the final 5 minutes.
The second half started with a shot on goal for Russia which Livaković saved to keep the score 0:0. Croatia’s first real chance of the second half came 10 minutes later when Vlašić shot over the goal. Croatia was struggling to break through the tough Russia defense.
Croatia’s defense was lucky when a Russia attack was called offside in the 62nd minute. Sosa shot from outside the box two minutes later but it was an easy save for the Russia keeper.
Luka Ivanušec came in for Mario Pašalić in the 69th minute. Mislav Oršic came in for Andrej Kramarić and Mirko Livaja for Ivan Perišić in the 72nd.
Russia increased its attacking game but failed to find the back of the net. Ivanušec shot at the keeper in the 81st minute. An injury ended Ćaleta Car’s game in the 84th minute. Mile Škorić was subbed on in his place.
A weak clearance from Lovren in the 87th minute nearly cost Croatia a goal, but Livaković saved it to keep the score even. The final few minutes saw panic for the Croatia defense who were threatened by Russia in the penalty area.
Four minutes were added by the referee.
Kovačić used his technical skills to dribble through the Russia defense, sending a slow-motion ball across the goal line in the 2nd minute of added time for another Croatia chance, but it wasn’t enough. The match ended 0:0.
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