Nikica Jelavic scored just five minutes after being brought on as a second-half substitute to give Croatia a 1-0 victory over Macedonia.
It was a winning start for new coach Igor Stimac, after he took over from Slaven Bilic after Euro 2012.
The decisive moment came when Luka Modric floated a cross into the penalty box for Mario Mandzukic. He headed the ball into the path of Jelavic, who glanced a header past goalkeeper Martin Bogatinov.
The header from the Everton striker ensured the home side secured a winning start to their campaign in Group A and gave them a valuable three points ahead of a tricky trip to Belgium on Tuesday.