clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Both Kovacic And Modric Start In Croatia’s Win Over Iceland

Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric were both in the starting XI as Croatia beat Iceland Tuesday evening.

Iceland v Croatia: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Mateo Kovacic started his first game in this World Cup when Croatia won 2-1 against Iceland Tuesday evening.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After securing top spot in group D with a 3-0 victory against Argentina, Croatia didn’t have a lot at stake when they met Iceland Tuesday evening. Iceland needed three points to advance into the last 16, while Croatia could remain relatively calm and rotate their starting eleven. Croatian manager Zlatko Dalić changed nine players from the starting eleven that beat Argentina on Thursday, but Luka Modric was one of two players that didn’t get to rest against Iceland as he started the game alongside teammate Mateo Kovacic.

Croatia controlled the first half-hour of the match, before Mateo Kovacic fouled an Icelandic player and gave away a free-kick around 25 meters away from the goal. The free-kick did not put Croatia goalkeeper, Lovre Kalinic, in much trouble. At the end of the first half it was Iceland that created the biggest chances. First it was Alfred Finnbogason that tried a shot from outside the area, but his finish went right outside of Kalinic’s goal. Right before the end of the first 45 minutes it was Icelandic captain, Aron Gunnarsson, who got a huge chance inside the area, but Kalinic made a good save and made sure that the score was 0-0 after the first 45 minutes in Rostov.

It was Croatia that came up with the first big chance in the second half. This time it was Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj who first had a shot denied by the crossbar just five minutes into the second half, before he finally scored Croatia’s first goal of the evening just minutes later when he arrived late into the box and smashed the ball near post. Just minutes after the goal, Iceland came close to an equalizer, when Ragnar Sigurdsson headed the ball onto the crossbar.

Luka Modric got substituted off with 25 minutes to go when Filip Bradaric entered the pitch. The Croatia captain played an okay game, and he showed sights of greatness throughout, but he got a well deserved rest in the second half. Mateo Kovacic was taken off for Ivan Rakitic with ten minutes to go, and the 24-year-old Real Madrid midfielder put in a decent performance in his first start of this World Cup. Ivan Perisic crushed Iceland’s hopes seconds before full time when he placed the ball into the top right corner with his left foot. Croatia won the game 2-1 and will meet Denmark in the last 16 this Sunday.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid