Euro 2020: Croatia beat Scotland 3-1 to book a place in the last 16

Callum McGregor canceled out Nikola Vlasic's goal before the break but Modric regained the lead with a stunner in the second half before setting up Perisic for the third.

Croatia beat Scotland 3-1 to qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2020; Credit: Twitter/@HNS_CFF

Croatia beat Scotland 3-1 in their final Group D game to qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2020 as runner-up in the group. Scotland came into the match at home soil full of confidence after the goalless draw against England in the previous game. A win was enough for them to go to the knockout stage. However the 2018 World Cup finalists displayed some quality football to convincingly beat the Tartan Army. Callum McGregor canceled out Nikola Vlasic’s opener going into the break. Meanwhile after the interval, Luka Modric scored one of the goals of the tournament to regain the lead before setting up Ivan Persic from a corner kick to seal the three points. (Full points table)

The home side’s intent was very much clear as they started positively and earned a corner inside the first minute. And five minutes after kickoff McGinn floated in a teasing inswinging cross from the left side but Che Adams failed to make the connection and goalkeeper Dominic Livakovic parried the ball away. Few minutes later Adams’ ambitious attempt went wide.

Croatia show class

Although Scotland started confidently Croatia slowly got back into the game. Croatia’s midfield trio of Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic and Modric controlled the game and dictated the game better than the Scot’s. And deservedly got the lead in the 17th minute. Perisic climbed above Stephen O’Donnell to head the ball down to the path of Vlasic from Josip Juranovic’s cross. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder calmly controlled the ball inside the penalty box and slotted it into the bottom corner of Scottish goal. Four minutes after the opening goal, Modric’s attempt from outside the box went just over the crossbar.

Just when Croatia looked to be in control, Scotland leveled the score in the 42nd minute. Central defender Domagoj Vida’s scruffy clearance from an Andy Robertson cross fell to the path of McGregor. The Celtic midfielder’s shot from outside the penalty box went into the bottom right corner of the Croatian goal. Hampden park erupted after the goal. It was his first international goal and the equalizer reignited the Scottish hopes going into the break. It was Scotland first goal in the Euro’s in 23 years.

Five minutes after the restart, Brozovic’s through ball picked up Josko Givardial’s run but the full-back’s attempt was denied by some brave goalkeeping by David Marshall. 

At the other end, McGinn failed to connect to Armstrong’s inswinging corner from the left side with his outstretched left foot at the far post and crashed into the goalkeeper. The Aston Villa midfielder could have had a better chance of scoring if he went in with his right foot.

Modric magic sees Croatia through in Euro 2020

Meanwhile, a minute after the hour mark, Modric produced a moment of magic to regain the lead and thrash the Scottish hopes. Kovacic laid the ball to Modric outside the penalty box, the Real Madrid man unleashed a beautiful shot with the outside of his right foot that went straight to the top right corner of Marshall’s goal. It was probably the second best goal of the tournament so far behind Patrick Schik’s wonder strike.

In the 76th minute, Modric turned provider this time. Perisic got past his marker Kieran Tierany to head the ball in from Modric’s corner from the left wing and complete the proceedings. Even though Scotland tried to get back into the game through Adams’ shot, that was saved by the goalkeeper at the near post.

Zlatko Dalic’s side were clearly the better side on the night. Their midfield trio lead by the 36-year-old Modric controlled the game and Croatia had 67% ball possession in the game. Absence of Billy Gilmour at the heart of Scotland’s midfield due to COVID-19 was very much evident as they couldn’t put enough pressure on the opposition at the middle of the park. The 20-year-old Gilmour was the Man of the match in the goalless draw against England.

Steve Clarke’s side were applauded out of the field after a fighting contest at Glasgow. A bit more quality up front could have made the difference. Nevertheless they can take pride in their resilient performance at the Euro 2020. 

Sportslumo Desk

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