Marcelo Brozović struck a goal in each half as Croatia weathered an early storm to move six points clear at the Group 5 summit with victory over their nearest rivals.
The home side created a number of gilt-edged chances in Lugano but lacked their opponents' cool heads in front of goal. Visiting captain Brozović, the GNK Dinamo Zagreb midfielder, showed them how it is done, breaking the deadlock just before half-time with a fine free-kick and sealing the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying spoils 14 minutes from time.
It all left Switzerland coach Pierluigi Tami with mixed emotions, admitting he saw "many positive things" bar the result. There was plenty to admire early on as his side fashioned real openings for Arlind Ajeti, a header just over the bar, and Oliver Buff, who missed when it seemed easier to score. Brozović punished the profligacy seven minutes before the break.
Not that Switzerland threw in the towel, jabbing back without ever really hurting Croatia. Substitute Michael Frey came closest with a powerful effort well saved by Oliver Zelenika and three minutes later it was 2-0 as Karlo Bručić made a fantastic run down the left, teeing up his skipper to convert from close range.
"Croatia are a good, experienced side with fantastic players like Ante Rebić and Mateo Kovačić," said Tami. "We played well but we made mistakes."