Scotland shock Maksimir to dent Croatian hopes
Friday, June 7, 2013
Croatia 0-1 Scotland
The hosts handed the Group A advantage to Belgium after Robert Snodgrass scored the only goal at the Maksimir to seal a shock win.
Article top media content
Scotland produced a major shock in Croatia as they recorded their first win in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying to deal a sizeable blow to the hosts' hopes of topping Group A.
With Gordon Strachan's men winless in the section and facing undefeated opponents, few gave the Scots any chance at the Stadion Maksimir, but they more than held their own early on and got their reward when Robert Snodgrass dinked the ball over Stipe Pletikosa after 26 minutes. Croatia, level on points with Belgium at the group summit at kick-off, had numerous chances, yet resolute defending epitomised by Allan McGregor in the Scottish goal ensured Igor Štimac's team suffered a first Group A reverse.
Scotland captain James Morrison and Ivan Perišić both tried their luck from distance early on, but there was no breakthrough until Shaun Maloney burst through the middle. Darijo Srna's tackle inadvertently directed the ball into the path of Snodgrass who did the rest.
Štimac's side roared back. Sammir volleyed wide of an open target before Russel Martin showed expert timing to clear off the line when Srna's cross appeared to be heading in.
It was one-way traffic after the break. First, Ivica Olić's rising strike skimmed just over, then the VfL Wolfsburg forward provided a delightful left-wing cross for Mario Mandžukić but somehow the FC Bayern München man could not get enough boot on the ball to turn it in.
McGregor saved expertly from substitute Eduardo's header, before repelling Mateo Kovačić's low drive with his legs after the ball flew through a crowd. There was no relief for Scotland in the final moments, yet Croatia could find no way through. Belgium, 2-1 victors against Serbia tonight and now three points clear in Group A, travel to Scotland on 6 September, the same day Croatia visit their Serbian neighbours.