Cristiano Ronaldo struck the only goal in Geneva as Portugal completed a miserable week for Igor Štimac's side, though the introduction of Alen Halilović gave something for Croatia to celebrate.
Halilović was introduced at the interval and, still a week shy of his 17th birthday, became his country's youngest ever debutant. They were already trailing to Ronaldo's 36th-minute goal, salting the wounds of Friday's shock home defeat by Scotland, but the youngster brought fresh impetus and so nearly conjured a late equaliser.
Croatia were dearly in need of a fillip, still smarting after the Scotland loss that has left a shadow over their FIFA World Cup qualifying hopes going into the summer. Not so Portugal after their triumph over Russia revived aspirations and they picked up where they left off in Switzerland, taking the initiative and eventually finding the breakthrough.
Ronaldo did the damage, powering in after a feint foxed Croatia's scrambling defence following Silvestre Varela's knock-back. The Real Madrid CF man so nearly made it 2-0 before the interval, rattling the crossbar with a powerful header, his last meaningful action as he was withdrawn at half-time. Off went one of today's global stars; on, in the shape of Halilović, came a player touted as one for the future.
The 16-year-old immediately looked at home and with Portugal unable to capitalise on their ascendancy, most notably when substitute Vieirinha's dangerous header was nicely saved by Danijel Subašić, an equaliser looked possible. Halilović nearly provided it three minutes from time, sending a low diagonal shot just wide of the far post as Portugal held on.
Halilović was not the night's only debutant, as Henrique Sereno and André Martins came on for their bows for Croatia's opponents.
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