Croatia came from a goal down to beat the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the second time in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The patisan 32,500 crowd crammed into the National Arena Filip II Macedonian were given just the start they wanted when Agim Ibraimi broke the deadlock on 16 minutes but the visitors were soon in the ascendancy. Vedran Ćorluka restored parity before half-time and the excellent Ivan Rakitić completed the turnaround on the hour with a fine lob. There was no way back for the hosts.
Croatia therefore claimed their first win in three visits to Skopje but for a while they looked destined for an unwanted hat-trick as FYROM scored from their first meaningful attack. NK Maribor's Ibraimi received a pass from Stevica Ristic on the edge of the box and fired inside the upright.
Croatia responded well, Nikica Jelavić and Rakitić going close before the latter's corner on 33 minutes found its way to Ćorluka who, all alone, rifled in. Rakitić was everywhere and, though Martin Bogatinov just about got enough on a free-kick before half-time, he was caught out by one not long after it as Rakitić collected a set piece from the left and lobbed the goalkeeper.
FYROM, beaten 1-0 in Croatia last month, had begun the second period well but took a back seat from there on in. Nikola Kalinić went close and Darijo Srna hit the post with another free-kick but the damage had already been done. Croatia will go into Tuesday's meeting with Wales level with Belgium at the top of Group A; bottom side FYROM host Serbia the same night.
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