Croatia moved top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F thanks to a 3-1 victory against ten-man Israel, with morning leaders Greece being held to a 1-1 draw against Latvia in Riga.
Despite dominating much of the first half, Croatia fell behind to Tomer Hemed's strike just before the break. The hosts responded immediately at the beginning of the second half, Luka Modrić equalising on 47 minutes before substitute Eduardo scored twice in quick succession after defender Tal Ben Haim had received his marching orders.
Trailing Greece by a point at the top of the section before kick-off, Croatia knew that only victory could give them the upper hand going into their crucial game in Piraeus next month. However, against the run of play, it was Israel who forged ahead just before the break. Luis Fernandez's side hit the hosts on the counterattack and Yossi Benayoun supplied Hemed, who had the simplest of finishes to put Israel ahead.
Slaven Bilić rang the changes at the break bringing on Eduardo and Tomislav Dujmović in place of Vedran Ćorluka and Ognjen Vukojević, and it took just two minutes for Modrić to equalise, the Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder exchanging passes with club-mate Niko Kranjčar before firing an unstoppable drive past substitute goalkeeper Guy Haimov. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors who were reduced to ten men on 51 minutes when Ben Haim (not to be confused with the forward of the same name who was an unused substitute) was dismissed for a challenge on Eduardo.
Modrić then supplied the pass for Eduardo to give the hosts a 55th-minute lead and the FC Shakhtar Donetsk forward was on hand two minutes later to head in Darijo Srna's cross and extend Croatia's advantage. Croatia will finish top if they beat Greece in Piraeus on 7 October while Israel play Malta in their next game four days later.