Croatia, Georgia come out on top in Group 11
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Dinko Jeličić's Croatia wrapped up first place in Group 11 with a 7-1 defeat of Azerbaijan on the final day, when Georgia beat Iceland to claim the second qualifying berth.
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Croatia continued their strong recent showings in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, winning qualifying round Group 11 on home soil by three points from Georgia.
Semi-finalists on their finals debut in 2010, Croatia – who also qualified for last season's tournament – took seven points from their three matches, clinching top spot with a 7-1 defeat of Azerbaijan on the last day. Georgia joined them in the elite round draw, to be made in Nyon on 5 December, thanks to a 2-0 victory over Iceland on matchday three.
Hosts Croatia had kicked off with a 2-0 win against Georgia earned by goals from Tomislav Kiš and Kruno Ivančić, who would go on to contribute six and three goals respectively to Croatia's campaign. A 2-2 draw with Iceland checked Croatia's momentum, yet that emphatic thrashing of Azerbaijan – in which Kiš scored five – concluded their programme in style.
"Our goal was to be first in the group and we managed that," said Croatia coach Dinko Jeličić. "Our ambitions will remain high in the spring as well, but we have time to think about the elite round. I want to thank everybody in my team, all the players were excellent."
Iceland had secured four points from their first two encounters, a 2-1 success against Azerbaijan preceding the Croatia draw, to sit three above Georgia – held 1-1 by Azerbaijan on matchday two – going into the sides' matchday three meeting. However, a goal in each half from captain Bachana Arabuli enabled Georgia to edge them out for second position on head-to-head record.