Croatia all but sealed their place in next summer’s World Cup after cruising to a 4-1 win against a sloppy Greece side in Zagreb.
A strong Croatian side which boasted the likes of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and the Inter Milan pair of Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozović were simply too good for the Greeks throughout the game.
The hosts opened the scoring after just 13 minutes, with Modric converting a spot-kick after a poor touch from ‘keeper Orestis Karnezisled led him to foul former Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic.
Just six minutes later, Kalinic himself doubled Croatia’s lead, netting from close-range with a cute backheel after more poor defending from Greece.
Greece got one back on 30 minutes, via a fine header from Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
However, an Ivan Perisic header before the break made it 3-1 as the Croats capitalised on a poor display from the visitors.
After the break, former Leicester attacker Andrej Kramaric made it 4-1 after Konstantinos Stafylidis’s botched chest-pass allowed Sime Vrsaljkjo to nip in and set up the former Leicester man.
Late on, ex-Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou went close on a couple of occasions, heading over before being thwarted by Danijel Subasic in the Croatian goal at the death.
Overall, Croatia were well worth the win which puts them in the driving seat ahead of the second leg.
That second takes place on Sunday evening at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, with the hosts facing a huge mountain to climb.