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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Croatia's Nikica Jelavić Ices Winning Goal Against Macedonia

The long road of qualifying matches for 2014 World Cup has just started up and will last right up until November 2013. Croatia started off the campaign with a 1-0 win at home in Zagreb and avoided getting just a disappointing single point.  Every single match and point is extremely important, so the 3 points are good news, but they will have to step it up a few notches for their upcoming matches.

It's a good thing that Nikica Jelavić's solid play lately and his goal scoring abilities for his club Everton has extended to his Croatian National Team  play, in this case helping take 3 points against a stingy Macedonian team that wasn't allowing many offensive opportunities. They will have to play better against a prepared and waiting Belgium squad on Tuesday.  Full story below....


Croatian Football Federation website:


Jelavic gives lacklustre Croatia 1-0 win over Macedonia




(Reuters) – An opportunist goal by substitute Nikica Jelavic earned Croatia a 1-0 win over fellow former Yugoslav country Macedonia in A World Cup Group A qualifier on Friday.

New coach Igor Stimac enjoyed a winning start on his competitive debut but Macedonia were the better side in the first half and having weathered an early onslaught, when Eduardo’s first-minute header hit the post, they were unlucky not to score in the opening period.

Centre back Vance Sikov had a header cleared off the line by his Croatian opposite number Josip Simunic before Macedonia captain Goran Pandev’s piledriver from 25 metres cannoned off the crossbar.

The home team’s playmaker Luka Modric, watched from the terraces by his Real Madrid club manager Jose Mourinho, was lively after the interval and one of his sublime touches unlocked the Macedonian defence in the 69th minute.

Modric floated a perfect cross into the penalty box for Mario Mandzukic, who headed the ball into the path of Jelavic and his strike partner prodded a glancing header past keeper Martin Bogatinov.

Croatia were forced to hang on in the closing stages as the visitors pressed forward but were unable to carve out a clear-cut chance.

"It took a lot of effort to get over the recent 4-2 friendly defeat by Switzerland and we can’t complain about tonight’s result bearing in mind that we had several half-fit players," Stimac told Croatian television.

"Corluka was battling an injury and Modric was far from his ideal shape too after a long summer layoff, hence I think we did a great job because a winning start was all that mattered.

"We were wary after Macedonia pinned us back in the first half, we were too slow in passing the ball and creating space and these are the things we have to look at."

Croatia are away to Belgium in their next match on Tuesday, when Macedonia visit Scotland.

Sept 8 (Reuters) - 2014 World Cup qualifying Group A 
results and standings on Saturday.

 Scotland  0 Serbia 0

    Standings     P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
    Belgium       1  1  0  0  2  0  3
    Croatia       1  1  0  0  1  0  3
    Scotland      1  0  1  0  0  0  1
    Serbia        1  0  1  0  0  0  1
    Macedonia     1  0  0  1  0  1  0
    Wales         1  0  0  1  0  2  0

Previous results: 
    Sept. 7    
    Wales   0 Belgium   2
    Croatia 1 Macedonia 0
 Sept. 11
    Scotland  v Macedonia
    Serbia    v Wales
    Belgium   v Croatia
 Oct. 12
    Serbia    v Belgium
    Wales     v Scotland
    Macedonia v Croatia
 Oct. 16
    Croatia   v Wales
    Belgium   v Scotland
    Macedonia v Serbia
 March 22
    Scotland  v Wales
    Macedonia v Belgium
    Croatia   v Serbia
 March 26
    Serbia    v Scotland
    Wales     v Croatia
    Belgium   v Macedonia 
 June 7
    Belgium   v Serbia
    Croatia   v Scotland
 Sept. 6
    Macedonia v Wales
    Scotland  v Belgium
    Serbia    v Croatia
 Sept. 10
    Macedonia v Scotland
    Wales     v Serbia
 Oct. 11
    Croatia   v Belgium
    Wales     v Macedonia
 Oct. 15
    Belgium   v Wales
    Serbia    v Macedonia
    Scotland  v Croatia    


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