Luka Modric and Croatia sealed a 3-0 win over Cyprus in their World Cup Qualifier match on Friday. The 36-year-old, who was just named to the 2021 Balon D’Or shortlist, played and captained for 84 minutes.
Modric had several good chances to score, including a penalty kick that he failed to convert and was saved by the keeper Neofytos Michael. Modric has two other decent chances that were missed wide of the goal.
It took Croatia all the way until extra time in the first half to finally score but they finally did after Ivan Perisic scored, who was assisted by Modric. It was a wonderful pass from the captain to send the Inter winger in on goal and strike first.
Croatia would score twice more with Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol and Hajduk Split’s Marko Livaja netting in the very late minutes of the match to seal the victory.
Besides another strong outing from Modric, who continues to put forth impressive international performances at his age, the debuting 21-year-old Bayern product Josip Stanisic was also quite impressive in his first international feature.
Croatia absolutely dominated Cyprus throughout the match. The Croatians had 27 total shots, 11 on target, to the Cypriotes 7, with only one of theirs on goal. Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric, who hasn’t scored an international goal in over a year, also had a goal disallowed for offsides.
Moving forward in the remaining three qualifiers Croatia must be able to convert their high volume of good chances and cannot afford to be as wasteful as they were on Friday evening. They had plenty of missed shots, a saved penalty kick and a disallowed goal all in 90 minutes of play.
The win puts Croatia at the top of the Group H table, however they are tied at 16 points with Russia, who were also victorious in a 1-0 win over Slovakia on Friday. The Vatreni have now won four of their last five qualifiers.
Modric and Croatia will be back in action against Slovakia on Monday.