Belfast Telegraph

Ruthless Croatia slay Greece

Croatia 4 Greece 1

By Paul Burrows

Croatia put one foot in the World Cup finals after cruising to an emphatic 4-1 win over Greece in the first leg of their qualifying play-off in Zagreb.

Goals from Luca Modric, Nikola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric were enough to make Sunday's second leg against the Greeks - who replied through Sokratis Papastathopoulos - appear a formality.

The home side pressed from the start and in the 13th minute Greek keeper Karnezis handed Croatia a penalty after bringing down Kalinic in the box. Modric stepped up to give his side the lead.

Kalinic then added the second when he met a cross from Ivan Strinic and fired past Karnezis.

An otherwise bleak night for the visitors was made temporarily brighter on the half-hour, when Papasthathpoulous reduced the deficit against the run of play with a header from a Fortounis cross.

But the home side were in no mood to let their advantage slip and it took them just three minutes to restore their two-goal lead when Perisic headed in from close range, with Kramaric sealing the victory by prodding home the final goal four minutes after the interval.

Belfast Telegraph

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