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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Maksimir Stadium (ATT 36,000) 22nd March 2013 - Kick off 17:00 Ref: C Cakir

Croatia Croatia vs Serbia Serbia

Croatia 2

M Mandzukic (23)
I Olic (37)

ft

Serbia 0

Croatia win to boost hopes

First half Mandzukic and Olic goals see Croatia remain unbeaten

Last Updated: 22/03/13 8:15pm

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Ivica Olic: Celebrates his goal

Ivica Olic: Celebrates his goal

Croatia claimed a 2-0 comfortable win over Serbia in Zagreb to strengthen their position at the top of Group A.

Mario Mandzukic put Croatia in front midway through the first half and Ivica Olic made it two at the break, with Serbia offering more in the second half but ultimately coming up short.

The win pushed Croatia - who started the game level on points with Belgium at the top of Group A - onto 13 points from their opening five games, nine ahead of Serbia.

For such a potentially incendiary fixture, bust-ups and bone-crunching challenges were conspicuous by their absence as players and staff alike kept their heads.

This World Cup qualifying tie was first time the two countries have played each other in an international football match as independent states following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and the Croatian War of Independence.

There was plenty of history at Zagreb's Maksimir Stadium, the setting for a bloody riot in 1990 between fans of Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb.

The respective managers, Croatia's Igor Stimac and Serbia's Sinisa Mihajlovic, captained opposing sides, Hajduk Split and Red Star, in the 1991 Yugoslavian Cup final as the war was breaking out. Both were sent off.

But both bosses, who have now buried the hatchet, called for calm ahead of Friday's match and both embraced at the final whistle of a match played in a good spirit.

There were only three bookings, the last two coming in the final five minutes.

There were no away fans at the stadium following an agreement between the two national federations that will be repeated in the return fixture in Belgrade - and in the first half they would have had little to cheer.

Goal disallowed

Croatia had a goal disallowed in the 15th minute, Mandzukic going up for a header with goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic and, although the ball ended up in the net, the referee gave a foul on the goalkeeper.

The hosts did not have to wait too much longer for the breakthrough, though.

Serbia gave away possession in their own half and the ball was stabbed through to Olic in the right of the area.

His pass across the six-yard line evaded two Serbia defenders and allowed Mandzukic to tap home at the far post for a 23rd-minute lead. The Bayern Munich striker raced over to the bench to celebrate, making show of kissing the badge.

Croatia then had further reason to cheer in the 37th minute. Aleksandar Kolarov was booked for a foul on Mandzukic. Darijo Srna swung in a teasing delivery from the right touchline and Brkic hesitated over whether to stay or come for it, allowing Olic to steal in and chest the ball in.

The visitors came racing out of the blocks in the second half, Kolarov bringing an athletic parry out of Stipe Pletikosa within two minutes of the restart.

At the other end Ivan Rakitic had a curling shot pushed away by Brkic, who then did well to save Niko Kranjcar's follow-up.

Pletikosa produced a fine double save to deny Filip Djuricic as Serbia continued to be frustrated.

Pletikosa denied Djuricic again with a fine parry in stoppage time before handshakes, as well as jubilant Croatian celebrations, greeted the final whistle.

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Fri 22nd Mar - Group F
    • Israel
      3 - 3
      Portugal
      bet
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    • Luxembourg
      0 - 0
      Azerbaijan
      bet
      TV
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group B
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group A
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group E
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group C
    • Kazakhstan
      0 - 3
      Germany
      bet
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    • Austria
      6 - 0
      Faroe Islands
      bet
      TV
    • Sweden
      0 - 0
      Rep Ireland
      bet
      TV
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group D
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group G
    • Liechtenstein
      1 - 1
      Latvia
      bet
      TV
    • Slovakia
      1 - 1
      Lithuania
      bet
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    • Bos & Herz
      3 - 1
      Greece
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    Fri 22nd Mar - Group H
    Fri 22nd Mar - Group I

Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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