2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

14 June - 15 July

Russia 2018

Croatia send brave Iceland home

Croatia beat Iceland 2-1 in Rostov-on-Don in an exciting match in which the Icelanders also had one eye on events in Saint Petersburg, where Argentina and Nigeria were also battling to qualify from Group D. Yet in compiling their third straight win, Croatia condemned their opponents to an early exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Iceland made them work for the points, though. Overrun by the Croatians in the early stages, they began to push forward on learning that Argentina had taken the lead in their game, creating four good chances in the closing ten minutes of the first half. Alfred Finnbogasson passed up one of them, while Croatia keeper Lovre Kalinic did his bit to keep the game goalless.

Milan Badelj put Zlatko Dalic’s side ahead with a right-footed strike eight minutes after the restart. Sverrir Ingason then thumped a header against the bar before Birkir Bjarnason contrived to miss a gilt-edged chance.

Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled the northerners level from the spot to send their fans wild, and when Argentina scored their late winner, Iceland found themselves just a goal away from going through. Yet their dreams were shattered in the final minutes when Ivan Perisic scampered clear to secure the points for Croatia.

Team reporter analysis
Petur Hreinsson, with Iceland [Follow on Twitter | Facebook]
Iceland can be proud of their performance. Though Croatia were without several first-choice players, Iceland showed no little skill, which was rewarded with a goal. Following coach Heimir Hallgrimsson’s instructions to the letter, they kept their shape and blunted Croatia’s attack. Ultimately, however, missed chances cost them the opportunity to advance to the next round.

Vjekoslav Paun, with Croatia [Follow on Twitter | Facebook]
Croatia made nine changes in all, making it hard to gauge how they would perform defensively. Though the Vatreni made an impressive start, Iceland wrested possession and began carving out chances. Croatia ultimately secured the points thanks to goals from Badelj and Perisic, which capped another impressive performance for the Balkan side.

Budweiser Man of the Match
Milan Badelj took a difficult chance with great aplomb, getting his foot over a bouncing ball to put his side ahead. And there was more to his performance than just scoring, as he teamed up to perfection with Luka Modric in midfield.

The stat
1 - Croatia have topped a world finals group for the first time in their history, courtesy of three wins in their three games.

What’s next
Croatia-Denmark, 1 July, Nizhny Novgorod
Iceland, eliminated

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