A well-taken Eduardo da Silva goal kept Croatia on course for a place at UEFA EURO 2008™ and left Estonia still searching for their first points.
Having scored 34 goals in 32 games this season for NK Dinamo Zagreb, the Brazilian-born Eduardo has struck six goals in six Group E qualifiers but few will have been better than the one in the 32nd minute in Tallinn. Estonia goalkeeper Mart Poom did well to get a hand to the fierce shot but could not keep the ball out. While only David Healy and Lukas Podolski, with nine and seven respectively, have scored more than Eduardo in this campaign, Estonia remain the only nation in qualifying without a single goal. In contrast, victory has preserved Croatia's two-point lead on Russia and Israel at the top of the section, with the top two meeting in Zagreb on Wednesday.
It was more than 20 minutes before a single chance on goal until Mladen Petrić fired wide for the visitors. The next opportunity was to be the goal as Eduardo received the ball on the edge of the area, turned adroitly and fired hard and low beyond Poom's despairing dive. Estonia came back strongly, despite Croatia's dominance in possession. A particularly bright attack in the 38th minute involving Konstantin Vassiljev, Oliver Konsa and debutant Vladimir Voskoboinikov finished only in a corner. Two minutes later Estonia finally produced an effort on target, Enar Jääger's long throw-in reaching Raio Piiroja, but the Fredrikstad FK centre-back's header was easily stopped just below the crossbar by Stipe Pletikosa.
The second half was largely uneventful, with only a long-range shot from Niko Kranjčar standing out before Poom was called into action to punch clear from Darijo Srna's curling free-kick. Estonia turned up the pressure in the closing stages but could not get the goal they craved. In the 81st minute, Dmitri Kruglov's corner was well met by Ragnar Klavan, only for Pletikosa to react well. Two minutes later, Vassiljev had an excellent long-range attempt turned around the post. Estonia will hope for more luck when they welcome England on Wednesday.