Lineup: Pletikosa – Srna, Ćorluka, Šimunić, Strinić – Rakitić, Vukojević, Modrić, Kranjčar – Mandžukić, Olić
Srna, Pletikosa and Šimunić joined Dario Šimić today as the only Croatian players to be capped 100 times.
It was a slow start to the match Wednesday afternoon in London and both Croatia and South Korea played to the rainy conditions in a friendly match. Croatia dominated possession for entire first half but gave the ball away too many times, leading Korea to go on multiple counterattacks. One nearly led to a goal, but the header was cleared off the line by defender Vedran Ćorluka. Wolfsburg striker Ivica Olić got the start but showed his age, missing two fine chances on goal: an open header in front of goal and a shot that whisked past the left post.
But Croatia finally got on the board 30 minutes in when Ivan Rakitić’s free kick from the right side was headed in by Mario Mandžukić from six yards out. Korea nearly got on the board thereafter with sloppy Croatian defense, but Pletikosa got a finger on the shot from 20 yards out to force a corner. In the 40th minute, Croatia went on a quick counter, captain Darijo Srna kept the ball and fired away from 19 yards out, betting just inside the left post for a 2-0 lead. It would stay that way going into the halftime break.
The second half started with three Croatian substitutions. Dejan Lovren came in defensively for Ivan Strinić while Štimac swapped out both strikers: Jelavic and Petrić for Mandžukić and Olić. Petric playing an international match on his Fulham club home ground, Craven Cottage.
10 minutes after the restart, beautiful play by the Croatian attack to make it 3-0. Mladen Petrić did a fine job of keeping possession outside the box and finally found enough gusto to find Modrić with the pass. The Real Madrid man then slipped the ball to a blazing Nikica Jelavić in the box, who in turn, one-timed the ball inside the far post for the goal. It was great chemistry by all three players on the play.
In the 66′ Hajduk’s Franko Andrijašević received his 1st Croatian cap; coming in for Vukojević. Quicjly after, Dinamo Zagreb’s Arijan Ademi, of Macedonian-Albanian descent, entered the game (also 1st cap) for Luka Modrić. The match slowed down with Korea taking the reigns on ball possession.
But before the final whistle, Jelavić puts Petrić on a breakaway and the Fulham man, on his home turf, chips the keeper for a 4-0 lead! Three out of four Croatian strikers have scored in this friendly match.
The game would end 4-0 in Croatia’s favor even though there were many lapses on defense. With the proper fire power, Korea should have put at least one or two in. Success from London.
See you all on March 22nd…when Croatia takes on Serbia from Zagreb!