Scotland 1-2 Croatia
Monday, 28 October 2019
Forthbank Stadium, Stirling

Scotland 1 (Hanratty 78’)
Croatia 2 (Kanižaj 68’, Šaranić 90’)

Scotland fell to their first defeat in the qualifying round losing 1-2 to Croatia to finish second in Group 7.

The Scots wasted no time and had their first chance of the game just two minutes in. Chris Mochrie agilely worked the ball past the Croatian defence to put a cross into the box which was met by Adam Devine whose shot was blocked. Regan Thomson had another go on the rebound, but it went wide of the goal.

Mochrie found himself in a good position to shoot just moments later, but Croatian goalkeeper Kolić made a close range stop to deny the winger.

Croatia’s first chance came in the 10th minute when Viktor Kanižaj won a free kick on the edge of Scotland’s penalty box after he was brought down by Dane Murray. Ivan Šaranić rolled the ball into the path of Noel Bilić whose strong strike was collected by Scotland’s Jay Hogarth.

Bilić came close again a couple of minutes later, but his shot went across the face of goal and wide of the post.

Scotland won a corner in the 17th minute which was taken by Mochrie who opted to send it up the wing to Jayden Fairley. Fairley swung the ball into the box from his position, but it flew over the heads of his teammates and was caught in the air by Kolić.

Kanižaj found himself on a promising attack on the half hour mark, with a quick run down the left wing. He made it to the Scotland box but was eventually outrun by Calvin Ramsay before he could get a shot away.

It was goalless at the break despite decent chances from both sides. Scotland dominated possession for much of the first 45 minutes and spent a lot of time in Croatia’s half.

Early in the second half Regan Thomson was brought down in the box by Croatian captain Tomislav Duvnjak and the referee pointed to the spot. Thomson stepped up, but the Queen’s Park midfielder missed the target and sent the ball over the crossbar.

The Croatians looked a much bigger threat after the break and Scotland found themselves with a lot more defending to do.

Croatia’s Bartol Barišic sent a promising pass to Duvnjak in the 61st minute and Scotland’s Leon King did well to shut down the attack and send the ball out for a Croatia corner.

Kanižaj finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute after some messy defending in the Scotland box. The ball fell to the feet of the Croatian who confidently slotted it past Hogarth to put the visitors ahead.

Scotland found themselves with the chance to even things up in the 73rd minute after being awarded a second penalty. The officials took a few moments to make the decision after Liam Smith was fouled trying to get a shot away from close range.

Substitute Kevin Hanratty made the most of the opportunity and sent a powerful strike to the keeper’s bottom right to put his side level again.

Hanratty almost put Scotland in the lead five minutes later with a curling effort from the edge of the box, but his shot came off the post.

Croatia looked hungry to take three points and had several close attempts towards the end of the match. They left it late to seal the victory when Šaranić fired it over the head of Jay Hogarth in the 90th minute.

Scotland: Hogarth, Devine, Watson (Coulton 46’), King, Morrison (c), Fairley (Duncan 87’), Mellon (Hanratty 64’), Mochrie, Thomson (Smith 64’), Murray (Hepburn 83’), Ramsay

Subs not used: Ritchie, Carse, Lowry, Nelson, Hepburn

Croatia: Kolić, Novak-Stanko, Braun, Katinić, Kanižaj (Romac 87’), Duvnjak (c), Ćubelić, Barišic (Šimić 87’), Šaranić, Bilić (Petrović 90+1’), Pelivan

Subs not used: Zadro, Pobi, Brkljača, Krolo, Letaj, Crnac