Croatia took on Hungary at home in Split on Thursday evening in a qualifying match for UEFA EURO 2020.
The finalists of the 2018 FIFA World Cup managed a fairly convincing 3-0 victory over one of their neighboring countries. This result puts them close to booking their spot in next summer’s continental tournament.
All three goals came in the first half as a result of grave Hungarian defensive errors. Team captain Luka Modrić scored the first goal, before a brace Dinamo Zagreb striker Bruno Petković provided the other two.
Croatia did much to deserve their victory, despite the help from the opposition. They controlled the match from nearly start to finish. Unlike in some previous qualifying matches, they did not just look for the first goal, but put their opponents to the sword early on.
It can never be enough for the other team to make mistakes, if one does not capitalize on them. That is precisely what coach Zlatko Dalić’s team did better than in before. In Hungary itself they lost points after having turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 defeat.
Similarly, they failed to win a match in last month in Azerbaijan, after having dominated it and having scored early.
This time, they finally learned from their mistakes and finished off their visitors in the first half.
The Vatreni showed some mercy in the second half, when they missed a penalty kick and did not finish their other chances with the utmost precision, but they never allowed the Hungarians anything even remotely resembling a way back into the game.
Croatia now stands atop of their group with 13 points, compared to Slovakia’s ten and Hungary’s nine.
Given that both of the top two in each section qualify directly for the EURO, that is close to enough for them to make it already. But never underestimate their ability to mess up a good situation!