Following the first leg of UEFA’s four 2018 World Cup qualification playoffs, only one — Croatia’s 4-1 thrashing of Greece — provided 1) multiple goals scored; 2) at least one goal scored by each side; or 3) a lead/deficit of more than one goal at the midway point.
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On Sunday, Zlatko Dalic’s Croatians made good on that three-goal advantage and booked their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, courtesy of a 0-0 second-leg draw in Piraeus.
After Luka Modric, Nikola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric set them on their merry way in the first leg (the only blemish coming on a Sokratis Papastathopoulos goal), it was little more than a formality that Croatia would qualify for its second straight World Cup and fifth tournament in six tries (missed out in 2010).
Croatia joined Switzerland in having secured on Sunday their spot at next summer’s tournament in Russia. Four sides — Italy and Sweden, and Ireland and Denmark — will decide UEFA’s final two berths on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.