Croatia 2-1 Sweden: Hosts pick up first win of Nations League campaign to go third in the group three after late Andrej Kramaric winner
- Croatia went ahead through Nikola Vlasic before Marcus Berg leveled for visitors
- Croats play France on Wednesday and will be looking to avenge last month’s loss
- Zlatko Dalic’s side have lost their previous two games 4-2 against the French
- Sweden have lost all three Nations League games and are bottom of the group
The result left the Croatians third in the group on three points from three games, three behind holders Portugal and world champions France who were playing each other in the evening kick-off, which finished 0-0. Sweden have lost all three opening fixtures.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was pleased with his team’s start to the match, played in driving rain at Maksimir stadium.
Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric scored the winner for the World Cup runners-up against Sweden
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic will be hoping to get the better of France on Wednesday
‘We played really well in the opening 60 minutes but we couldn’t keep up with our own pace and we struggled in the last half an hour,’ Dalic told a news conference.
‘But I am pleased we found a way to win and we’re now looking forward to the home game with France. We are going to reshuffle the starting line-up a bit for that one.’
Croatia host France on Wednesday, having lost the reverse fixture 4-2 after they were beaten by the same score by Les Bleus in the 2018 World Cup final.
The French came from behind to beat Croatia 4-2 in last month’s Nations League encounter
Midfielder Nikola Vlasic fired the Croatians into a 32nd-minute lead against the Swedes when he swept the ball home from 10 metres from a flowing move involving winger Josip Brekalo and Luka Modric.
Striker Marcus Berg equalised midway through the second half thanks to an Emil Forsberg assist, as Sweden’s more adventurous approach after the break paid off.
The home side had the last laugh, though, as substitute Kramaric side-footed home the winner in the 84th minute after an unselfish pass by Ivan Perisic.
CSKA Moscow’s Nikola Vlasic celebrates with Josip Brekalo after putting Croatia 1-0 up
Kramaric said he played despite struggling with a thigh injury.
‘I wish I was in better shape but there is not much to cheer about regarding the injury at the moment,’ he said.
‘I am a bit concerned although I came through today. We should have scored more than one goal in the first half but then we enjoyed a slice of good fortune after they equalised.’ (Writing by; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ed Osmond)