Dalic gives new hope to Croa­tia

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT -

ZAGREB: Croa­tia fired on all cylin­ders when they needed to most un­der new coach Zlatko Dalic as a 4-1 home rout of Greece in their 2018 World Cup Euro­pean qual­i­fy­ing play-off on Thurs­day vin­di­cated his hasty appointment af­ter their World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign had threat­ened to col­lapse.

The re­sult of the first leg left Greece with an al­most im­pos­si­ble task to over­haul the deficit in to­mor­row’s re­turn leg, af­ter Dalic’s ad­ven­tur­ous for­ma­tion tore them apart at Mak­simir stadium.

The 51-year-old Bos­nian-born Dalic stepped in for the un­pop­u­lar and un­charis­matic Ante Cacic.

His re­vamped side, freed from Cacic’s cagey tac­tics, pro­duced what Croa­t­ian play­ers, pun­dits and fans billed as one of their best per­for­mances in the last few years.

With Ivan Perisic, cap­tain Luka Mo­dric and Ivan Rakitic at their usual high level, stand-in striker Nikola Kalinic, who re­placed in­jured bat­ter­ing ram Mario Mandzu­kic, also stood out with a goal af­ter win­ning a penalty con­verted by Mo­dric.

Kalinic’s strike part­ner An­drej Kra­maric, con­stantly over­looked by Cacic, con­tin­ued his sec­ond lease of life with an­other goal af­ter net­ting both against Ukraine. - Reuters Croa­tia 4, Greece 1; North­ern Ire­land 0, Switzer­land 1 Swe­den v Italy Den­mark v Ire­land (9.45pm SA time kick-off) Switzer­land v North­ern Ire­land (7pm); Greece v Croa­tia (9.45pm) Italy v Swe­den (9.45pm) Ire­land v Den­mark (9.45pm)

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