FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Late own-goal lets Croatia slip past Russia to book finals' berth

Finalists at the last World Cup in 2018, Croatia looked bound for the play-offs for much of Sunday's game, as they toiled on a waterlogged pitch against a resolute Russian defence.

Agence France-Presse November 14, 2021 22:26:41 IST
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Late own-goal lets Croatia slip past Russia to book finals' berth

While Croatia qualify automatically as Group H winners, Russia can still make it through via the play-offs. AP

Split: Croatia secured their place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 win over Russia on Sunday, a late own goal from Fedor Kudryashov swinging the game in their favour after a hard-fought battle in boggy conditions in Split.

Finalists at the last World Cup in 2018, Croatia looked bound for the play-offs for much of Sunday's game, as they toiled on a waterlogged pitch against a resolute Russian defence.

But Kudryashov's error saw them snatch top spot from the visitors eight minutes from time and secure their passage to next year's tournament in Qatar.

An early header from Andrej Kramaric set the tone for a first half in which Croatia had the lion's share of possession and piled on the pressure in search of an opener.

Marcelo Brozovic also shaved the bar with a long-range effort, before both he and Josip Juranovic forced saves from Russian keeper Matvey Safonov.

Safonov beat away another Kramaric header with a reflex save just after the break, before denying substitute Bruno Petkovic on the hour mark.

The conditions made it harder and harder for Croatia as the second half progressed, with the pitch becoming ever more boggy under the heavy rain.

The chances had all but dried up when Borna Sosa sent a hopeful ball into the box on 82 minutes.

Though under no pressure, Kudryashov struggled to control the ball as it skidded on the wet ground, and watched helplessly on as it bounced off his knee and inside the post.

While Croatia qualify automatically as Group H winners, Russia can still make it through via the play-offs.

Updated Date:

also read

Premier League: COVID-19 cases in English top flight drop for second successive week
Sports

Premier League: COVID-19 cases in English top flight drop for second successive week

There were 72 positive cases in the latest round of testing between 3 and 9 January, an improvement on the 94 recorded in the previous figures.

Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy, charged with seven counts of rape, released on bail
Sports

Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy, charged with seven counts of rape, released on bail

Judge Patrick Thompson granted bail to the 27-year-old defender at a hearing at Chester Crown Court subject to "stringent" conditions, including the surrender of his passport.

Premier League: Kieran Trippier becomes Newcastle United's first signing under new Saudi owners
Sports

Premier League: Kieran Trippier becomes Newcastle United's first signing under new Saudi owners

The 31-year-old full-back has moved back to the Premier League for an undisclosed fee, understood to be in the region of £12 million ($16 million) plus add-ons.