Goals from Borna Sosa and Lovro Majer either side of a sensational Christian Eriksen effort helped Croatia beat Denmark 2-1 on Thursday night to go top of Group A1 in the Nations League.
Borna Sosa scored his first international goal in his fifth appearance to put Croatia ahead in the 49th minute.
The full-back was first to a loose ball on the edge of the 18-yard box, and guided an effort beyond Kasper Schmeichel and into the bottom left corner.
A little less than half-an-hour later Eriksen scored an equaliser with a first-class finish.
The Manchester United midfielder picked up the ball with acres of space 30 yards from goal, and planted an effort into the top-left corner to get Denmark back on level terms.
Less than two minutes later, however, Croatia were back in front following another wonderful finish outside of the box.
Lovro Majer hadn’t been on the pitch for 60 seconds but in a congested area on the edge of Denmark’s 18-yard box, fashioned an impressive effort to trouble Schmeichel.
Croatia managed to hold onto their lead and see out the game to leapfrog their opponents in the standings and take the lead in Group A1 to take the group to the final matchday.
Denmark now trail Croatia by a point and must beat France on Sunday to have a chance to go through to next year’s finals, whilst tonight’s hosts face bottom side Austria.
TALKING POINT – BATTLE OF THE NUMBER 10S
Technicians Luka Modric and Christian Eriksen ran the show from the first minute for their respective nations. The pair pulled the strings in and around the danger area as they picked the locks of the opposition defence, thinking outside the box as they looked for a way through.
Both players made headlines as Modric put in a player of the match display with his tricky movement and pinpoint technique as he helped his country to a big win as they close in on Group A1, whilst Eriksen scored a sensational equaliser, rifling an effort into the top corner 30 yards from goal.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – LUKA MODRIC (CROATIA)
Age is just a number for Luka Modric.
He was sensational on the night as he glided his way through the match and was untouchable at times. His elegance on a football pitch once again highlighted his pure quality and genius as Denmark struggled to get near him.
He shifted in and out of the defence, played tricky balls in the final third and gave Schmeichel some difficult shots to deal with. In a game with three sensational finishes, it wasn’t short of quality, but Modric added that extra sparkle and deservedly enjoyed his standing ovation.
CROATIA: Livakovik 7, Juranovic 6, Sutalo 7, Gvardiol 6, Sosa 8, Modric 9, Brozovic 7, Kovacic 7, Pasalic 7, Kramaric 6, Perisic 6. Subs: Vida N/A, Majer 7, Vlasic 5, Orsic 7, Petkovic 5.
DENMARK: Schmeichel 6, Andersen 6, Christensen 5, Kjaer 4, Maehle 6, Wass 6, Hojbjerg 5, Delaney 5, Eriksen 8, Olsen 6, Braithwaite 5. Subs: Kristensen 5, Jensen 5, Damsgaard 6, Hojlund 5, Dolberg N/A
34’ – BEST CHANCE OF THE GAME, LIVAKOVIC SAVES – Maehle breaks through the Croatian defence and tries to poke an effort underneath Livakovic from a tight angle, but the goalkeeper gets on top of it to keep it out.
49’ – GOAL! CROATIA 1-0 DENMARK (SOSA) – It’s brilliant from the left-back. Sosa lurks on the edge of the 18-yard box as the ball pings about in front of Schmeichel’s goal before it trickles perfectly into the path of the 24-year-old who guides the ball into the bottom left corner.
77’ – GOAL! CROATIA 1-1 DENMARK (ERIKSEN) – The Man Utd man picks up the ball in acres of space, roughly 30 yards from goal, and plants an effort into the top corner. Outstanding!
79’ – GOAL! CROATIA 2-1 DENMARK (MAJER) – Majer scores only seconds after coming on! Another superb finish from outside the box puts Croatia ahead!
90’+2 – ERIKSEN COMES SO CLOSE! – That would have been some way to finish this game! Eriksen’s effort from a tight angle flashes across the face of goal.