Bro­zovic scores 2 as Croa­tia beats Ice­land in empty sta­dium

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Croa­tia didn't have any fans in its na­tional sta­dium, but it didn't need their sup­port as two Marcelo Bro­zovic goals brought a 2-0 win over Ice­land, open­ing up a lead at the top of Euro­pean Group I in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing yes­ter­day.

Forced to play in an empty arena be­cause of nu­mer­ous cases of spec­ta­tor un­rest, Croa­tia took the lead early when Bro­zovic curled in a shot from out­side the box.

Croa­tia dom­i­nated the rest of the game but strug­gled to find a sec­ond goal in the face of stub­born Ice­landic de­fend­ing, though the Croa­t­ians largely dealt well with coun­ter­at­tacks that caused so many prob­lems for top teams at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship.

Bro­zovic wrapped up the game in stop­page time, pick­ing up the ball on the half­way line and charg­ing up the field be­fore smash­ing the ball past Ice­land goal­keeper Hannes Hall­dors­son.

Ivan Perisic came clos­est to scor­ing another for the hosts, but sent one shot straight at Hall­dors­son, and sliced another nar­rowly wide. Perisic's night went from bad to worse with a red card shortly af­ter Bro­zovic's sec­ond goal af­ter he sliced down Birkir Bjar­na­son with a reck­less two-footed chal­lenge.

In re­cent years, Croa­tia has been given in­creas­ingly heavy sanc­tions for fan un­rest in­clud­ing fight­ing in the stands and flare use at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, as well as the draw­ing of a swastika on the pitch ahead of a game against Italy last year.

Croa­tia moves to 10 points at the top of Group I, with Ice­land fol­low­ing on seven, though Ukraine can take sec­ond place if it beats Fin­land.

TURKEY 2, KOSOVO 0 Kosovo's dif­fi­cult start to its first ma­jor qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion con­tin­ued with de­feat away to Turkey, but there were signs of progress.

Im­prov­ing on the 6-1 loss to Turkey in a 2014 friendly, Kosovo kept the Turks at bay through­out the first half, but con­ceded two goals in quick suc­ces­sion from Bu­rak Yil­maz and Volkan Sen shortly af­ter the break. Turkey is fourth in the group, while Kosovo is sixth and last with only a sin­gle point.

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