After an hour of hard fighting, Croatia attracted its Joker. Mateo Kovacic put the ball back to the edge of the penalty area on Luka Modric, his former Real Madrid teammate and national team captain, and nothing else was needed. The 35-year-old veteran has proven to himself and his countrymen, who have not held back from criticism lately, just how much this Croatian team can still count. From a distance of 16 metres, Modric turned the ball with his outer comb to the crossbar. This was the result that deserved a game that had never followed any rules before.
The goals of the first half lacked the true logic of the game. The Croats looked a lot in the first quarter of the hour, as they did against England and the Czech Republic in this European Championship. It looked as if Dalic had put eleven technically lonely and sometimes extremely talented fighters on the field without telling them who was playing alongside them. So the Squares needed a 1-0 lead by Nikola Vlasic to finally find a pattern on the grass.
Moving forward, the favorite player moved further, played more vertically and passes suddenly found buyers. On the other hand, Scotland rolled back, as if the guest at Hampden Park were conquering a slightly larger part of the square with every minute. Four minutes before halftime, the Bravehearts rushed in again after all fighting in their own half, and Vida didn’t pass enough, right at the feet of Callum McGregor, who scored 1-1 from 17 metres.
It was Modric’s technical shot that brought the conditions on the court in line with the result. And because Ivan Perisic scored 3-1 ten minutes before the end – after a corner kick from Modric – the group stage in Group D ended as many expected ahead of the European Championship: with England and Croatia in the top two places.
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