CROATIA are on the brink of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup after blitzing to a 4-1 win at home to Greece.
Luka Modric, Nikola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric all got on the score sheet as Zlatko Dalic’s men proved to be too good at Stadion Maksimir.
Getty Images – Getty Luka Modric scored an early penalty for Croatia against Greece at Stadion Maksimir EPA The Real Madrid star celebrates after putting his country ahead AP:Associated Press Nikola Kalinic doubled the home side’s lead as they threatened to run riot
The home country got off to the perfect start after Modric netted in the 13th minute from the penalty spot with a strike low into the bottom right corner.
Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis was shown a yellow card for bringing down Kalinic, as the Real Madrid midfielder made no mistake in the first leg qualifier.
And just three minutes later it was 2-0, when Kalinic dusted himself off and tapped home from close range after being found by Ivan Strinic.
Greece then pulled a goal back through Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, with his header finding its way into the top left corner in the 30th minute.
AP:Associated Press Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored to make it 2-1 with an expert header Reuters Ivan Perisic made it 3-1 to Croatia as he headed home from close range in the 33rd minute
But they fell behind just three minutes later after Manchester United target Perisic restored Croatia’s two-goal lead.
The Inter Milan winger headed home at the far post from close range as he latched on to Sime Vrsaljko’s perfect cross.
Any hopes of a miraculous comeback were dashed when ex-Leicester striker Kramaric sent the home fans into delirium.
It was Vrsaljko who again supplied the assist, as the 26-year-old found the back of the net to all-but secure their place in Russia next summer.
AFP or licensors The Manchester United target celebrates after his vital goal restored Croatia’s two-goal lead Reuters Andrej Kramaric scored to make it 4-1 to leave his country on the brink of the 2018 World Cup
Greece threatened in the closing stages for vital away goals, with Sokratis, Kostas Mitroglou and Kyriakos Papadopoulos all going close.
The Euro 2004 champions have to score at least three goals at the Karaiskakis Stadium when the two countries face each other on Sunday.
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