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2022 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Marcelo Brozovic (31' OG)
  • Ivan Perisic (6')
  • Duje Caleta-Car (22')
  • Mario Pasalic (39')
  • Luka Modric (45'+1')
  • Lovro Majer (47', 64')
  • Andrej Kramaric (53')

Croatia thump Malta to set up crunch game vs. Russia

Croatia stayed on course to qualify automatically for the 2022 World Cup as a 7-1 rout of Malta in Thursday's Group H qualifier left them needing to beat Russia on Sunday to reach the finals.

Croatia are second in the group on 20 points from nine games, two behind the Russians who stayed in the driving seat with a 6-0 rout of Cyprus.

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Ivan Perisic fired Croatia into a sixth-minute lead as he steered the ball into an empty net and Duje Caleta-Car doubled their advantage when he headed home a Luka Modric free kick.

Hosts Malta pulled one back thanks to a clumsy Marcelo Brozovic own goal before Mario Pasalic netted after a rapid break and Modric made it 4-1 with a neat finish on the stroke of halftime.

The Croatians stayed on the attack after the break and Lovro Majer scored his first international goal in the 47th minute, sweeping in a rebound after goalkeeper Henry Bonello parried Andrej Kramaric's header.

The lively Kramaric netted six minutes later when he took advantage of sloppy Maltese passing in midfield and beat the stranded Bonello with a precise low shot from 40 metres.

Majer grabbed his second with a thumping finish into the roof of the net as 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia ran riot ahead of their decisive clash with Russia in Split.