Photo: Sportske Novosti
Starting XI vs. Macedonia:
Pletikosa, Strinić, Šimunić, Ćorluka, Srna, Vukojević, Perišić, Modrić, Rakitić, Mandžukić, Jelavić in a 4-4-2 formation
The cardiac Croatians were at it again- this time in Skopje, Macedonia. After going down early to a 16′ Ibraimi strike due to a lapse in defense, Croatia composed themselves over the next 70 minutes to pull out a 2-1 victory and an important three points in World Cup 2014 qualifying vs. Macedonia. With multiple runs at goal not being finished, a Rakitić corner kick in the 33′ found a wide open Vedran Ćorluka on the back post, who took in the ball down and struck home to equalize for the Vatreni. Moments later, from nearly 35 yards out, Rakitić tried to trick the Macedonian keeper, who was cheating up on the play, with a shot from long range. He was lucky enough to get a fist on the ball for the save.
But Rakitić tried it again in the 60′, and this time it worked. He saw the Macedonian keeper once again cheating up and sent a long-range looping free kick over the goalie and under the crossbar for the 2-1 lead. The score would stand even though both teams pressed for another goal. Macedonian captain Goran Pandev made a nice move in the box in the second half but appeared to dive when the Croatian defense met him. Substitute Nikola Kalinić had a golden chance at goal late in the game but missed his mark with plenty of time in front of the goal. Croatia will be without defender Vedran Ćorluka and midfielder Ognjen Vukojević for the Wales match on Tuesday due to yellow cards they picked up today.
Brazilian-born Dinamo Zagreb player Sammir made his Croatia debut in Skopje, coming in for Jelavić in the second half. He has one decent run at goal but was unable to get the shot he was looking for. He was booed coming into the match, but it is not known which section of fans were jeering Sammir, but they made it known that he was not welcome.