Two goals from Ivica Olic helped Croatia defeat Belarus 3-1 in a World Cup European zone Group Six qualifier on Wednesday and keep Slaven Bilic’s team in England’s slipstream on the road to the World Cup finals.
Croatia stay second in the group with 14 points, still seven behind England, who have a perfect record of 21 points from seven games.
Croatia were in front after 22 minutes thanks to Bayern Munich star Olic.
A fierce drive from Luka Modric was only parried by Belarus goalkeeper Anton Amelchenko around the posts for a corner from which Olic then headed home.
Olic has a chance to add to the total seven minutes from the interval, but after being released by Eduardo’s fine pass, he dragged his shot wide.
Belarus’s problems deepened in the second half when Sergei Sosnovsky was yellow-carded in the 57th minute.
Croatia deservedly went further in front after 72 minutes with Arsenal striker Eduardo getting on the scoresheet.
The striker, who suffered a horror ankle injury in an English Premier League game in February 2008 and spent a year on the sidelines, scored from close range from a pinpoint cross by skipper Darijo Srna.
With nine minutes left, Dimitry Verkhovtsov pulled a goal back for the home side but their joy was short-lived when Croatia went straight down the other end with Olic slotting in from Ivan Rakitic’s pass.
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