Croatia were the far better side in their 1-0 win over Panama in Fujairah, making amends for their opening-day loss to Morocco at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE. The result is Panama’s second consecutive defeat and they will be doubly concerned by the fact that they have yet to score a goal in Group C play.
Croatia had most of the possession, looking sharp in the early stages of the game. Luis Zuniga’s headed try after 11 minutes was merely a false dawn for the Panamanians, who failed to create many dangerous chances in the first half.
After 23 minutes, the Croatians created their first real opportunity on goal. Fran Brodic headed a corner-kick toward the goal but he was denied by the post. Three minutes later, though, the Europeans got it right and deservedly took the lead. Ante Roguljic pulled off a wonderful solo goal, breaking past three Panama defenders in the area before pulling his cross-shot inside the far post.
Elvir Maloku nearly doubled the lead in the final minutes of the opening period, but Panama’s keeper was on the spot to dive away expertly. The second half followed a similar pattern, with the Croats able to hang on to their lead and absorb the rare moments of pressure presented by Panama.
Roguljic really should have scored his second of the day ten minutes into the second period, but his shot couldn’t match his good turn and it was easily gobbled up by Panama’s keeper. Bojan Knezevic had another chance 20 minutes later, but he was denied by the good efforts of Jaime De Gracia in the Panama goal.
Vidal Gonzalez had the best chance to equalize for Panama when he turned in the 75th minute and fired an arrow to the top corner. His effort, however, was denied by the crossbar. Aside from one more half-chance, it was all Panama could muster as they fell to their second straight defeat. They will have no choice but to win in their third and final Group C game against Morocco in Sharjah, while Croatia will try to keep the party going against Uzbekistan in Fujairah.