Croatia finish atop Group D after Iceland win

Croatia finish atop Group D after Iceland win
Alfred Finnbogason (R) of Iceland in action against Milan Badelj (L) of Croatia during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group D preliminary round soccer match between Iceland and Croatia in Rostov-On-Don, Russia, 26 June 2018.

by Austin Ditlhobolo

Tuesday Jun 26, 2018. 21:59

Croatia ended their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D campaign with a 2-1 win over Iceland at the Rostov Arena in Russia on Tuesday.

The victory sees the Blazers advance to the Round of 16 as Group D winners, while Our Boys bowed of the tournament after finishing fourth on the group standings.

The match got off to a lively start with Our Boys searching for an early goal which would have unsettled the Blazers defence and they were presented with a half chance in the seventh minute.

Gylfi Sigurdssson delivered a good stinging low cross to Alfred Finnbogason, who tried to get close to the ball, but he was dealt with by Croatia defender Corluka.

Iceland continued to create chances and they came close to score through their towering full-back Hordur Magnusson two minutes before the half-hour mark.

A corner-kick was played into the far post where Magnusson was ready to nod goalwards, but the defender headed wide with Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic looking on.

The shot-stopper was then called into action in the 31st minute when Sigurdsson tried to curl the ball into the near-post, but the keeper denied him.

Croatia had a rare chance six minutes later when Ivan Perisic was played into space on the turn by Luka Modric and he placed his shot wide from 20 yards out.

The last chance of the first-half fell for Iceland midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, who was denied by a low Kalinic dive on the stroke of half-time.

The score was 0-0 at the interval following a first-half which was dominated by Iceland.

The Blazers dominated the opening stages of the second-half and they nearly broke the deadlock through Milan Badelj in the 52nd minute.

The Italy-based midfielder took aim from 25 yards and his effort hit the crossbar with Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson well-beaten.

However, Badelj was not to be denied a minute later as fired home to make it 1-0 to Croatia from Modric's cross much to delight of the Blazers supporters inside the stadium.

Croatia head coach then decided to pull out the Blazers' inspirational captain Modric and he introduced Filip Bradaric five minutes after the hour-mark.

Our Boys then piled pressure on the Blazers defence and they had a glorious opportunity to score in the 72nd minute when Bjarnason missed a sitter from close range.

However, Iceland were awarded a penalty a few minutes later after Dejan Lovren was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the Croatia box.

Our Boys' talisman Sigurdsson then stepped up and scored from the spot-kick to make it 1-1 for Iceland with 14 minutes left on the clock.

However, Perisic had other ideas as the attacker beat Halldorsson from a one-on-on situation in the 91st minute to seal Croatia's 2-1 win on the night.

Iceland (0) 1 (G.Sigurdsson 76')
Croatia (0) 2 (Badelj 53', Pesiric 90'+1)

Iceland: Halldorsson, Saevarsson, Ingason, R Sigurdsson (B. Sigurdsson 71'), Magnusson, Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson, Hallfredsson, Bjarnason (Traustason 90'), Finnbogason (Gudmundson 85').

Croatia: Kalinic, Jedvaj, Corluka, Caleta-Car, Pivaric, Pjaca (Lovren 69'), Modric (Bradaric 65'), Badelj, Perisic, Kovacic (Rakitic 82'), Kramaric.




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