11 October 2019 05:47
Croatia remained firmly on course to reach Euro 2020 after two goals from striker Bruno Petkovic helped them to a 3-0 home win over Hungary while Wales kept alive their hopes with a 1-1 draw at Slovakia in qualifying Group E on Thursday. The Croatians top the group with 13 points from six matches and will secure a berth in next year`s finals with a match to spare if they beat Wales away on Sunday. Slovakia are second on 10 points from six matches, one ahead of third-placed Hungary, while Wales are fourth with seven points from five games. Bottom team Azerbaijan have one point from five matches. The Croatians dominated after captain Luka Modric fired them into a fifth-minute lead when he picked up a loose ball in midfield, raced down the middle and steered a shot past Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
Petkovic made it 2-0 with a delightful back-heel from close range after Ante Rebic left his marker for dead on the left flank and squared the ball to the Dinamo Zagreb hitman. A catalogue of defensive errors allowed Petkovic to bundle in the third late in the first half, as Tamas Kadar and Gulacsi misjudged Ivan Perisic`s low cross from the right. Gulacsi made amends in the 55th minute when he saved Perisic`s penalty after Rebic was fouled but any slim hopes of a Hungary comeback were dashed moments later when Laszlo Kleinheisler was sent off for a second bookable offence. Wales missed a chance to close in on the top two after a sumptuous second-half volley by Slovakia defender Juraj Kucka cancelled out Kieffer Moore`s 25th-minute opener. Moore headed home after Daniel James delivered a fine cross into the penalty area but the visitors failed to clear a Peter Pekarik cross in the 53rd minute and Kucka blasted in the equaliser from 20 metres.
Gareth Bale hit the crossbar for Wales with a first-half header and the Slovakians had defender Norbert Gyomber sent off in the 88th minute for a second yellow card after a poor tackle on Moore. Croatia hosted Hungary for a Euro 2020 qualifier game in Stadion Poljud, Split on October 11. Croatia, who top Group E, registered their fourth victory of over third-placed Hungary to maintain a healthy three-point lead over second-placed Slovakia. Match Report The match began with Croatia dominating the field which resulted in a goal in the fifth minute. Captain Luka Modric scored the opener with an incisive finish into the bottom corner. Croatia soon doubled their lead in the 24th minute with an improvised backheel by Bruno Petkovic after Ante Rebic dribbled past defenders with elan. Petkovic followed it up with another poacher's finish in the 42nd minute as Hungary's sloppy defence was left exposed. The first half ended 3-0. Also Read | Dream11: Belarus Vs Estonia Euro 2020 Qualifier Match Prediction The second half could have seen a fourth for Croatia after Rebic was brought down by Laszlo Kleinheisler only for Ivan Perisic's penalty to be saved by Peter Gulacsi. Croatia continued to dominate the half with Modric and Ivan Rakitic failing to add on to the scoresheet. Hungary failed to really test the Croatian defence in either of the halves giving Croatia a chance to register a comprehensive victory. Best moments Modric continued his fine form with the national side with another masterclass in the middle of the field. His quick finish opened the scoreline for Croatia and could have easily added another in the second half. Also Read | Real Madrid: Gareth Bale, Hazard And Others On International Duty Bruno Petkovic could have easily scored a hat-trick in the game, leading the line well for the home side. The 25-year old Dinamo Zagreb striker gave a man of the match performance and has now scored thrice in the Euro 2020 qualifiers and four times overall in six appearances for Croatia. Also Read | FC Barcelona: Suarez, Griezmann And Others On International Duty Up next for Croatia it is Wales, while Hungary welcome Azerbaijan in the coming days for the next set of fixtures in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Also Read | Brazil Vs Senegal: Firmino Opener Cancelled Out By Diedhiou Penalty