Neighbours Serbia and Croatia share spoils in 1-1 draw
Last Updated: 06/09/13 10:54pm
Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring in clash of the neighbours
Goals by Mario Mandzukic and Aleksandar Mitrovic ensured the World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Serbia ended in a draw as both teams finished with 10 men in Belgrade.
In what was only the second meeting between the countries since they became independent nations, Mandzukic gave Croatia the lead in the 53rd minute of the Group A clash.
Mitrovic levelled 13 minutes later only for Serbia to be reduced to 10 men when Nemanja Matic was sent off for his second bookable offence following a foul on Ognjen Vukojevic.
However, Croatia held a man advantage for just five minutes with Josip Simunic given a straight red card for a challenge on Miralem Sulejmani.
The stalemate allowed Belgium - 2-0 winners over Scotland tonight - to move five points clear at the top of the group with two games remaining, meaning second-placed Croatia must beat the leaders when they meet next month if they are to take the battle for top spot to the wire.
Serbia have endured a miserable campaign but they almost took an early lead tonight with Mitrovic hitting the post with a shot from the the edge of the six-yard box.
It was all Serbia in the early stages - Mitrovic, Matic, Zoran Tosic and Branislav Ivanovic all firing in efforts.
It was not until the half-hour mark that Croatia showed, Mandzukic mis-heading Eduardo's cross, but the attacks were largely coming from the hosts with Filip Djuricic and Mitrovic unleashing attempts.
The second half started as the first ended, Neven Subotic's drilled shot from distance blocked by Ognjen Vukojevic.
Yet despite all of Serbia's dominance it was Croatia who took the lead.
Darijo Srna split the defence with a pass from his own half which Mandzukic slotted into the bottom right-hand corner.
But Croatia were on level terms 13 minutes later when Mitrovic headed home Sulejmani's cross.
Croatia's task of finding a morale-boosting winner was given a helping hand when Matic was given his marching orders. However, parity was restored just 10 minutes when Simunic was red-carded following his challenge on Sulejmani.
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Fri 6th Sep - Group F
Russia4 - 1Luxembourg
N Ireland2 - 4Portugal
Fri 6th Sep - Group C
Kazakhstan2 - 1Faroe Islands
Rep Ireland1 - 2Sweden
Germany3 - 0Austria
Fri 6th Sep - Group B
Czech Rep1 - 2Armenia
Malta1 - 2Denmark
Italy1 - 0Bulgaria
Fri 6th Sep - Group A
Macedonia2 - 1Wales
Serbia1 - 1Croatia
Scotland0 - 2Belgium
Fri 6th Sep - Group E
Norway2 - 0Cyprus
Slovenia1 - 0Albania
Switzerland4 - 4Iceland
Fri 6th Sep - Group H
Ukraine9 - 0San Marino
Poland1 - 1Montenegro
England4 - 0Moldova
Fri 6th Sep - Group D
Turkey5 - 0Andorra
Romania3 - 0Hungary
Estonia2 - 2Netherlands
Fri 6th Sep - Group G
Latvia2 - 1Lithuania
Bosnia0 - 1Slovakia
Liechtenstein0 - 1Greece
Fri 6th Sep - Group I
Georgia0 - 0France
Finland0 - 2Spain
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||10||14|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I