Croatia leave it late to break Iceland hearts with 2-1 win
Iceland 1 (G. Sigurdsson 76’p)
Croatia 2 (Badelj 53’, Perisic 90’)
By Daniel Heinrich
Croatia has scored a 90th minute winner against Iceland to finish the group stage with three wins from three, and set up a round-of-16 clash with Denmark.
Ivan Perisic’s strike just before full-time in Rostov secured the 2-1 win, and end Iceland’s first-ever World Cup campaign.
Before the match, Iceland had a slim chance of qualifying for the knockout stage but in the end, they finished bottom of the group with one point from its draw with Argentina.
— Marko Pjaca (@marko_pjaca20) June 26, 2018
It took Croatia until the 53rd minute to open the scoring when Josip Pivaric surged into the box and his cross deflected off two defenders before sitting up for midfielder Milan Badelj to bury the ball in the back of the net.
Despite Croatia dictating possession, it was Iceland who looked the more dangerous of the two sides.
And that threat was eventually rewarded when Dejan Lovren handled a cross from Gylfi Sigurdsson in his own penalty area.
Sigurdsson, who made a mess from the spot in the last match against Nigeria, kept his nerve this time, smashing his shot straight down the middle of the goal to equalise in the 76th minute.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to score, but it was Perisic who turned match winner in the final minute of normal time.
The Inter Milan striker ran in behind the defence and rifled a powerful left-foot shot that Hannes Halldorsson in the Iceland goal couldn’t keep out.
Croatia is undefeated in the tournament and head coach Zlatko Dalic will be encouraged by the depth in his squad heading into the round-of-16 clash with Denmark.
Dalic fielded a B team against Iceland after making nine changes to the side which beat Argentina 3-0.
Iceland goes home early but with its reputation enhanced after showing that a nation of just 330-thousand people can mix it with the world powers of football.
Shot Attempts (On Target)
Iceland: 17 (6)
Croatia: 13 (2)
Fouls Committed (Cards):
Iceland: 10 (3 Yellow Cards)
Croatia: 12 (2 Yellow Cards)
Iceland: 1 Halldorsson (GK), 2 Saevarsson, 5 Ingason, 6 R. Sigurdsson (70), 18 Magnusson, 17 Gunnarsson (C), 20 Hallfredsson, 7 J Gudmundsson, 10 G Sigurdsson, 8 Bjarnason (90), 11 Finnbogason (85).
Substitutes used: 9 Sigurdarson (70), 4 Gudmundsson (85), 21 Traustason (90).
Croatia: 12 L Kalinic (GK), 13 Jedvaj, 5 Corluka, 15 Caleta-Car, 22 Pivaric, 10 Modric (C) (65), 19 Badelj, 20 Pjaca (70), 8 Kovacic (81), 4 Perisic, 9 Kramaric.
Substitutes used: 14 Bradaric (65), 6 Lovren (70), 7 Rakitic (81).