Greece 0 – 0 Croatia
Croatia qualified for their fifth World Cup after following up their convincing play-off first-leg win over Greece with a dour goalless draw in Athens.The game only had one shot on target, with the tie over as a contest after Croatia’s 4-1 win in Zagreb.
The visitors went closest, with Ivan Perisic hitting the post from 30 yards. Greece were much improved from the side called an “unprecedented disgrace” by domestic media in the first leg – but never looked like mounting a comeback.
They should have had a penalty early on when Ivan Strinic fouled Zeca, but Croatia were instead awarded a free-kick. Dimitrios Pelkas put the ball into an empty net late on, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Croatia’s controversial decision to sack Ante Cacic and replace him with Zlatko Dalic – who has not even signed a contract yet – two days before the final group game has ultimately paid off.
The Balkan nation – who have qualified for 10 of 12 major tournaments since independence – did not have any supporters at the game, as both federations agreed to ban away fans from the two legs because of the possibility of violence.
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