Croatia opened their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 victory over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Croatia, under the charge of Igor Štimac following Slaven Bilić's departure this summer, are looking to reach their sixth major tournament in seven attempts. They are on the right road in Group A thanks to Everton FC striker Nikica Jelavić's goal midway through the second half.
Eduardo, the man Jelavić came off the bench to replace, could have put the hosts in front inside the first minute but headed Ivan Perišić's cross against a post. FYROM, though, were undeterred and were denied only by Darijo Srna's goal-line clearance on the half-hour. They went closer still as half-time approached, Goran Pandev's stinging shot coming back off the woodwork.
Croatia did not need a second invitation to kick into gear and were in front on 69 minutes. Jelavić may have applied the finishing touch with his head but it came at the end of a fine move involving Niko Kranjčar, Luka Modrić and Mario Mandžukić. Croatia will look to make it two out of two in Belgium on Tuesday, when FYROM travel to Scotland.
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