Croatia beat Iceland 2-0 in Zagreb to book their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil next summer – despite playing much of the contest with ten men.
Mario Mandžukić opened the scoring on 27 minutes but was sent off shortly after making the breakthrough. Captain Darijo Srna struck to ease any nerves almost immediately after half-time, inflicting a body blow from which Iceland never recovered.
Croatia were held to a 0-0 draw by Iceland in Reykjavik on Friday and Niko Kovač's men were keen to stamp their authority on this play-off second leg, attacking from the outset. Their early headway was rewarded midway through the first half, Mandžukić staying cool after Ivan Rakitić's left-wing cross was redirected by Ivan Perišić into the FC Bayern München forward's path. It took just 11 minutes for Mandžukić's joy to vanish, though, a straight red card brandished for his foul on Aron Gunnarsson.
But the expected Iceland pressure was not forthcoming before the interval, and two minutes into the second half young midfielder Mateo Kovačić provided the spark for a Croatian second. His fantastic solo surge was followed by a well-judged pass for the charging Srna, who took the ball in his stride and lashed it into the opposite corner.
Croatia continued to dominate, despite their numerical disadvantage. Just after the hour mark, Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson denied Kovačić one-on-one, then Ivica Olić hit a post with a bicycle kick from a corner. Halldórsson also frustrated Perišić and Danijel Pranjić as the hosts controlled the remainder of the game and brought to an end Iceland's World Cup dream.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.
|1||Stipe Pletikosa (GK)||12||Hannes Halldórsson (GK)|
|4||Ivan Perišić||6||Ragnar Sigurdsson|
|5||Vedran Ćorluka||7||Johann Gudmundsson|
|7||Ivan Rakitić||8||Birkir Bjarnason|
|11||Darijo Srna (C)|
|17||Aron Gunnarsson (C)|
|21||Danijel Pranjić||23||Ari Skúlason|
|23||Danijel Subašić (GK)||1||Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson (GK)|
|12||Lovre Kalinić (GK)||20||Haraldur Björnsson (GK)|
|2||Šime Vrsaljko||3||Hallgrímur Jónasson|
|8||Mate Maleš||5||Sölvi Ottesen|
|13||Gordon Schildenfeld||15||Helgi Daníelsson|
|14||Leon Benko||16||Kristinn Jónsson|
|16||Milan Badelj||19||Rúrik Gíslason|
|19||Niko Kranjčar||21||Emil Hallfredsson|
|Niko Kovač (CRO)||Lars Lagerbäck (SWE)|
|Björn Kuipers (NED)|
|Sander van Roekel (NED), Erwin Zeinstra (NED)|
|Pol van Boekel (NED)|