Croatian national football team (Photo: Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL) Croatian national football team (Photo: Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL)

Croatia opened the game offensively with numerous scoring chances, hitting the crossbar three times. In the middle of the period this attacking style of play did leave Slovakia with a series of strong chances on the counter attack. However, in spite of the offensive style of play the game would remain scoreless until just before the end of the half. Midfielder Nikola Vlašić opened the scoring in the final minute of play of the first half with a strong individual effort to free himself of two Slovakia defenders and drive a strong low shot into the bottom left hand corner of the Slovak net.

Croatia started the second half just as offensively with Ivan Perišić scoring in the 46th minute of play. Playing as an attacking midfielder, Perišić delivered a low shot on goal from just outside of the penalty area. A fortuitous deflection would leave Slovak goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Striker Bruno Petković brought the lead to 3:0 in the 72nd minute of play with a fantastic solo effort, dribbling through the Slovak defense to open up a one-on-one situation with Dubravka, tucking the ball just under the Slovak goalkeeper. Defender Dejan Lovren scored the fourth and final goal in the 89th minute of play.

With the win Croatia jumps into the lead in Group E. Both Croatia and Hungary have nine points from five rounds of play, however, Croatia has a better goals for and against tally. Slovakia and Wales both have six points, however, Slovakia has the better goals for and against ratio. Azerbaijan is last in the group and is yet to register a point.

Croatia plays Azerbaijan in Baku next on Monday.

Source: HRT