Thursday, May 30, 2024

Croatia 2-1 Wales: Dragons fall to first qualifying loss in the blistering heat of Osijek

Daniel Orme in Editorial, General Soccer News 8 Jun 2019

Embed from Getty Images

Wales fell to their first Euro 2020 qualification defeat as Croatia edged a 2-1 victory on Saturday afternoon in Osijek.

The hosts took the lead early on as James Lawrence put through his own net following Ivan Perisic’s cross. The winger also had a hand in the second as he capitalised on poor defending from Wales to fire in from close range. Substitute David Brooks reduced the deficit with a deflected effort but despite some late chances, it was not enough for Ryan Giggs’ men to complete the comeback.

Early joy for Croatia

It was Zlatko Dalic’s troops that begun the better in a blistering hot Osijek as they dominated possession in the opening stages. Former Leicester City man Andrej Kramaric had to be well-marshalled by Chris Mepham for the first chance of the match, before Perisic tested Wayne Hennessey but it was the Welsh stopper that came out on top.

The first opportunity for the Dragons came the way of Harry Wilson as he was played through by Gareth Bale’s clever quick throw-in. However, the Liverpool wideman could not get enough purchase on his effort to really threaten the Croatian goal.

Lawrence OG puts hosts ahead

The hosts did eventually take the lead though and a massive amount of the credit had to go through Perisic. The Inter Milan forward broke at speed and the cut the ball back into the box, with James Lawrence failing to get out of the way and diverting it into his own net.

Despite an under-par performance throughout the first-period, Giggs’ men could have been heading into the break on level terms. Dominik Livaković failed to deal with Connor Roberts’ shot and it fell to Will Vaulks but he could not adjust himself in time to fire home.

Calamitous defending sees Croatia take control

As in the first-half, Croatia resumed very well and created chances pretty much from kick-off. Luka Modric played through Josip Brekalo but the forward could again not beat Hennessey. Mateo Kovacic managed to fire in the rebound but the strike was ruled out for offside.

They did not have to wait too much longer to finally double the lead though, although it was down to some awful defending. Joe Allen, Mepham and Roberts all failed to get in a telling challenge, with the ball falling to Perisic at the back post. He did not hesitate as he fired low into the net.

Despite the hosts’ control, they could potentially have been reduced to ten men as Tin Jedvaj produced a crunching tackle and was lucky to get away with only a yellow card.

Brooks reduces the deficit

With the clock ticking down, the Dragons really needed a lifeline and they got just that through substitute Brooks. The Bournemouth man picked the ball up on the edge of the penalty area, checked inside and aimed for goal. It looked to be an easy save for the stopper but the ball took a huge deflection off of Vida and nestled in to the back of the net.

There were a few chances in the closing stages as Wales battled for an equaliser. However, it could have been Croatia scoring late on and sealing a great result as Kramaric got free in the area but Hennessey produced another great save.

Wales then countered with Roberts falling in the area but the referee was unmoved and soon blew the whistle on a great win for the hosts.

Final Thoughts

Despite a battling final period from Wales, Croatia did deserve the victory. They created the better opportunities throughout the game and were probably slightly unfortunate to have not scored more goals. Dalic’s troops now sit top of the table after two wins from their opening three games. Meanwhile, Wales are now third ahead of their huge game against Hungary next week.

Match Report

Croatia: Livakovic (6); Jedvaj (6), Lovren (7), Vida (6), Barisic (6); Modric (7), Brozovic (6), Kovacic (7) (Badelj (N/A), 76′); Brekalo (6) (Pasalic (6), 66′), Perisic (8) (Skoric (N/A), 90+3′), Kramaric (7).

Wales: Hennessey (7), Roberts (6), Mepham (6), Lawrence (5), Davies (6); Allen (5), Smith (5) (Brooks (7), 65′), Vaulks (5) (Ampadu (6), 66′); Wilson (5), James (6) (Matondo (N/A), 79′), Bale (6).

Goals: J. Lawrence OG (17′)

Referee: Istvan Kovacs

Yellow Cards: Brekalo (28′), Bale (48′), Jedvaj (50′), Lovren (54′), Vida (69′), Brozovic (90+2′)

Red Cards: N/A


Daniel Orme

Daniel is a football journalism graduate from the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately six years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required *

Join the conversation!

or Register

Live Scores


Betting Guide Advertisement


Become a Writer
More More