A late Fyodor Kudryashov own goal saw Croatia leapfrog Russia in Group H and seal their place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
In a scrappy contest played on a drenched pitch, Croatia dominated had the lions share of possession in a must-win game, and eventually broke down a resolute Russian defence unintentionally as Kudryashov comically turned the ball into his own net in the 81st minute.
The result means Croatia top Group H on 23 points with Russia having to settle for a play-off spot in second on 22.
World Cup Qualification UEFA
Netherlands cruise to win over Montenegro, Scotland beat Moldova
04/09/2021 AT 20:59
Croatia dominated possession and had the best chances in a cagey first half. The best of which landed to Andrej Kramaric in the tenth minute, but his free header landed into the grateful arms of Matvei Safonov.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure with the rain unrelenting. In the 24th minute, Ivan Perisic’s header at the far post flew over the bar moments before Marcelo Brozovic’s attempt from range in the 25th minute forced Safonov to make a smart save.
Croatia pushed Russia deeper into their own half after the break and came closest to scoring in the 48th minute when Mario Pasalic met a Josip Juranovic cross, but his header was excellently saved by Safonov.
Amid the torrid conditions puddles formed on the pitch and it looked like Croatia would not find a way through.
But in the final ten minutes, the 2018 runners-up got the slice of luck they deserved when Kudryashov attempted to clear a cross into the six-yard box, but ended up turning the ball into his own net to the delight of the home support.
More to follow…
Hayward: ‘Distractions’ helped make Sterling England’s most influential player
06/07/2021 AT 11:45
Pragmatism will bring football home – The Warm-Up
30/06/2021 AT 07:22