U21 Euro Qualifiers: Finland Gives Croatia First Defeat in Varaždin

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Vjeran Zganec Rogulja/PIXSELL
Vjeran Zganec Rogulja/PIXSELL

The U21 Croatia national football team recorded its first defeat in Group A of the Euro qualifiers. Finland celebrated 3-2 in Varaždin. 

Already after the first half, Finland shocked Croatia with three goals, with their hero being Naatan Skyttae. Finland took the lead in the 11th minute when Croatia goalkeeper Kotarski made a mistake, and Skyttae scored for 1-0.

The same player increased Finland’s lead to 2-0 in the 29th minute, while he also assisted during stoppage time for Ablade to make it 3-0 for Finland at the half.

Croatia showed almost nothing in the first 45 minutes, while they played visibly better in the second half. In the 68th minute, Roko Šimić failed to score a penalty which was saved by the Finland goalkeeper Sinisalo, though not all hope was lost. Only two minutes later, Josip Šutalo scored a close-range header for 1-3.

The young Croatia side pressed until the end and found new hope in the 87th minute when Toni Fruk shot from the top of the penalty area and reduced the score to 2-3. But by the end, the result had not changed. Thus, after six victories, the Croatia U21 side recorded a draw (Austria 0-0) and a defeat (Finland 2-3) in the last week during the U21 Euro qualifiers. 

Fortunately, Igor Bišćan’s team received good news from the Austria-Norway match, with Austria winning 2-1. Croatia thus kept a four-point advantage over Norway, while Austria has three points more than Norway in second place, but also a game less.

Croatia will still play against Norway (June 3) and Estonia (June 8). Only the winner of the group will qualify directly for the 2023 Euros.

European Championship Qualifiers, U21 (Group A):


1. Croatia 8 6 1 1 19-7 19
2. Austria 9 5 1 3 20-10 16
3. Norway 7 5 0 2 19-7 15
4. Finland 7 4 1 2 12-9 13
5. Azerbaijan 7 1 1 5 6-19 4
6. Estonia 8 0 0 8 0-23 0

Source: HRT

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