Croatia became the latest nation to qualifier for the 2018 world Cup finals in Russia, after playing a goal-less draw against Greece in their second leg play-off inside the Karaisakaki Stadium, Greece. Coatia won the two-legged encounter on a 4-1 aggregate.
The Pirates Ship of Greece played their home match without a sense of urgency. People who had entertained the hope that Greece would be able to qualifier by scoring three un-replied goals soon got disillusioned after their lukewarm approach to the game in the first twenty minutes.
It was as though Greece’s players saw the match as already lost in the first leg where they suffered a four-one defeat in Zagreb.
Croatia, though they defended in numbers, occasionally poured forward in search of a goal; but Greece left many bodies behind to take care of any counter-attacking play from their opponent.
Greece had only one clear-goal scoring chance in the first half. This missed opportunity presented itself when Socratis Papastathoupoulos acrobatically shot a ball that was chested in front of him by his team mate at the edge of the opponent’s penalty box , but his skillfully executed shot missed the goal-post narrowly.
Greece showed greater attacking intent in the second half off the match, they enjoy more ball possession and were very dangerous from the right flank of Croatia’s final third; but the crosses that came from that position into the opponent’s eighteen yard box were ably dealt with by Croatia’s defenders.
As Greece searched for goals in the last quarter-hour of the match, Konstantinos Mirroglou hit the upright with a powerful shot from outside the eighteen yard box. In a similar manner, Panagiotis Tachtsidis low shot from inside the eighteen yard box was saved by Croatia’ goal-keeper, Daniejel Subaric.
Croatia ,at the end of today’s encounter, deservedly won the play-off ticket to next year mundial in Russia.