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Albania scalp keeps Croatia in touch

Published: Friday 5 September 2008, 21.18CET
Croatia 4-0 Albania
Croatia will qualify for the play-offs with a home victory against Italy in their decider after results went their way on Friday.
Albania scalp keeps Croatia in touch
Croatia fans will be out in force against Italy ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 5 September 2008, 21.18CET

Albania scalp keeps Croatia in touch

Croatia 4-0 Albania
Croatia will qualify for the play-offs with a home victory against Italy in their decider after results went their way on Friday.

Croatia will qualify for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs with a home victory against Italy on Tuesday after they comfortably defeated Albania in Varazdin and the Azzurrini were held by Greece.

Italy test
The hosts were made to work for the three points initially, and were limited to a solitary strike in the first half through Krešo Ljubičić. However, the floodgates opened after the interval as Ivo Iličević, Matija Smrekar and Josip Brezovec all found the target. Croatia return to the NK Varteks Stadium on Tuesday when three more points will see them topple Italy, who need just a draw, and advance to the 14-team play-offs.

Second-half surge
Croatia broke the deadlock after 14 minutes when Nikola Kalinić failed to convert Manuel Pamić's left-wing cross and the ball fell to Ljubičić who made no mistake. Croatia were made to wait until after the restart to add to their lead, yet once Smrekar's incursion down the left led to Iličević scoring the second, the goals flowed. Smrekar notched a third in the 79th minute after Ivan Strinić's pass from the left, before Brezovec completed the rout from 18 metres.

Last updated: 27/03/13 6.28CET

http://www.uefa.com/under21/season=2009/matches/round=15084/match=300377/postmatch/report/index.html#albania+scalp+keeps+croatia+touch