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16 October 2012
• Stadion Gradski vrt, Osijek
Referee: A. Tudor
• Attendance: 17500
M. Mandžukić 27'
Eduardo Da Silva 57'
Croatia were far too good for Wales tonight and could have won by a far more convincing scoreline had it not been for Lewis Price. Gareth Bale provided hope going forward for the visitors, but he alone couldn't do enough to get Wales any result in Osijek
FULL TIME: Croatia 2-0 Wales
90' + 3'
Pletikosa just about claws Church's cross from above his head as it lurked dangerously towards the goal.
90' + 3'
Decent work from Kranjcar before getting his shot away, which is poor and easily saved by Price, who apart from the opening goal, has been one of Wales' better players and kept the score down to a respectable 2-0.
90' + 2'
Four minutes of time to be added on.
Pletikosa fails to hold onto a Bale free-kick but gathers the ball before the Welsh attackers can pounce on to the loose ball.
Chance! What a run from Gareth Bale. Amazing power and pace from the Spurs man. He picked up the ball on the halfway line and proceeded to slalom past the Croatian defence before forcing a good save from Pletikosa from a wide area. Even the Croatian supporters applaud, great effort.
Shot from Perisic is curled wide of Price's goal, with Modric once again the architect. He hasn't had as much playing time under Mourinho as he would have liked, he is certainly enjoying himself tonight.
Modric, who has been the best player on the pitch, shows great feet in the area before flashing a shot across Price's goal, Mandzukic wasn't far off from turning it in.
Yellow Card Ivan Strinic
Simon Church takes a heavy blow from a late challenge from Strinic. Wales have improved markedly since the substitutions, but I fear it's too little too late for the visitors.
Bale does well to find Vokes in the area, but the substitute can only win a corner, which Croatia defend well from.
Mandzukic has a great chance at the far post, as he tries to head Rakitic's corner back across the goal, but he can't quite direct his effort past Price who saves comfortably.
What a scramble! Eduardo's header rockets off the bar, before the mother of all goal mouth scrambles ensues inside the area with Wales somehow managing to keep the ball out of their net.
Croatia seem to have woken up a little since that scare from Wales, and are taking more care in possession.
Pletikosa saves right on the line! Srna's forced to concede a corner as Wales produce a rare attack. Ledley sends in the delivery which is met by King but the Croatian keeper saves it right on the goal line. As close as Coleman's men have come.
Wales under immense pressure now as Croatia fancy their chances of bagging a few goals here. First Eduardo's effort from the edge of the area was well saved by Price, before Rakitic failed to deliver from a great crossing position inside the box.
It was coming. The hosts finally double their lead and it's Eduardo who claims his 26th international effort. Price originally denied Perisic's header from a corner with a fantastic low save but Eduardo was on hand to turn home the rebound from close range.
GOAL!!! Croatia 2-0 Wales (Eduardo)
Another great save! Mandzukic latches on to a ball over the top from midfield, and is bearing down on Price one-on-one but the striker fails to put it past him!
Williams is doing all he can to redeem himself after his sloppy pass led to the Croatian opener. He has been majestic in the second period so far.
Eduardo is denied again, this time a block from Williams as the ball looked like it was going to beat Price.
Price is keeping his side in the game at the moment! Perisic is denied again with a vicious effort which stings the goalkeeper's hands before Eduardo failed to capitalise from the rebound.
Srna has two pops at the free-kick but fails to test Price with either effort.
Yellow Card Chris Gunter
It's a yellow card for Gunter for a trip on Perisic. He can count himself fortunate, that could have easily been a red for the Reading man.
What a chance wasted from the hosts. Price takes a horrible kick out which lands at Modric's feet, he sweeps a ball over to Eduardo who tries to lay it off for Mandzukic but Wales recover and only concede a corner, which Rakitic heads over from.
Bale then sprints down the right flank, yet again, to earn Wales a valuable free-kick deep into the Croatian half.
Chance! A fantastic touch from Modric sends the ball into the path of Mandzukic but the striker's goal bound effort is deflected behind off Williams.
Wales take the kick-off and the second half is underway!
Simon Sinclair reports: "Half-time in Croatia and the home-side lead thanks to a strike from Mario Mandzukic. It's been all Croatia in the opening 45 minutes as they've dominated possession and are more than good value for thei 1-0 lead. Luka Modric and Darijo Srna have been pulling the strings, for Igor Stimac's side with Srna in particularly causing problems with his crossing from the right. The only negative for Croatia is it's only a one goal lead, as they've had their chances to put this game away. Chris Coleman will need to rally his side at the interval as they haven't been in the game at all, he may need to have a re-think tactically as most of his players haven't had a kick."
HALF TIME: Croatia 1-0 Wales
No stoppage time to be added on, barely any breaks in play here.
Goal.com's Simon Sinclair reports: "It continues to be all Croatia as we approach the end of the half. Wales have not been in this game at all, I don't think Steve Morison has had a kick of the ball as the home side have been camped in the Welsh half. Darijo Srna has been knocking in dangerous crosses all game from the right and Croatia are getting closer to poking one home with Price having to make good stops from Eduardo on more than one occasion. Still only 1-0 though so there maybe still hope for Chris Coleman if they can get to the break without conceding again."
It's a much more even encounter in the final 15 minutes of the half, but it feels like Croatia can step up another gear as and when they wish.
Scramble! A cross come shot from Srna results in a goal mouth scramble and Price follows up a couple of blocks with a fine save to give the Welsh some respite.
Wales breathe another sigh of relief! Mandzukic's header across the face of the goal is so nearly turned in by the arriving Badelj.
Price plays the ball out from the back, despite the horrible surface and Croatia duly win back the ball after a under hit pass. Might be a night for some aerial balls.
After going a goal in front, Croatia have begun to sit back and are now allowing the Welsh into the game.
Great cross from Perisic but Eduardo can't quite get on the end of it. Should have been two up!
Goal Mario Mandzukic
Oh dear, oh dear. Where do I begin? First Williams sells Price short with a back pass but the keeper is there first ahead of the Croatian striker, but decides to kick rather than claim, the ball hits Mandzukic and he is able to control before passing it into the empty net. Awful way to go behind.
GOAL!!! Croatia 1-0 Wales (Mandzukic)
Couple of chances of Eduardo, who is surrounded by bodies inside the box and and can't quite fashion an effort on goal.
Ashley Williams is close to making contact on Bales' delivery, but the referee spotted an infringement and Croatia have a free-kick.
Bale then goes galloping up the pitch as he does, and does remarkably well to earn a free-kick near the byline.
What an effort by Badelj! Well struck volley from range brings a good save out of Price.
Almost midway through the half and it's still goalless, but the pattern for the match is clear. Croatia will press and probe in the Welsh half, while the visitors will aim to contain and look for the one man counter-attacking machine, Gareth Bale, on the break.
Yellow Card Dejan Lovren
Wales play out of the back and find Bale on the right flank. The wide man cuts in and gets a long range shot off with his left foot, which only narrowly goes wide. Easily their best move yet, encouraging.
Simunic makes a rare venture forward an almost picks out Mandzukic with a cross, before hurrying back to his defensive position.
Great save from Price to deny Rakitic, who found space on the edge of the area and let fire.
The likes of Rakitic, Modric and Perisic like the ball to played on the deck, but the condition of the surface in this ground is nothing short of atrocious.
Big shouts for a penalty! Modric bursts into the box and goes over under the challenge from Davies, but the referee is having none of it. Modric feels aggrieved as does Igor Stimac on the sidelines.
Whistles from the crowd, as Gareth Bale is on the ball for the first time this evening. He wins a throw, which he then takes but Pletikosa collects it with ease.
Worrying first ten minutes for Wales, Srna couldn't be more involved if he tried.
Vaughan collides with Srna and Croatia have another free-kick in a dangerous position about 30 yards from goal. The skipper picks himself up and takes it and Price does well to parry his low effort wide of his far post.
Finally a couple of touches for the Welsh, but they don't maintain possession for long and Croatia are back on the attack.
Half shout for a penalty as Mandzukic goes down under pressure in the box. Eduardo continues but can't follow a smart turn with a finish, and tamely sends his effort into Price's arms.
This time Perisic crosses from the left for Rakitic, whose half-volley is blocked inside the area by a Welsh body. Breathless start from Croatia!
Srna again with the cross and Davies sends it out for a corner. Yet another ball into the box but the Welsh manage to clear it again. Croatia are all over the visitors early on.
Free-kick from the right taken by Srna and headed away by Blake.
The Welsh haven't had a kick of the ball yet, this could turn out to be an incredibly long night for Coleman's men.
Croatia with all the early pressure, a couple of crosses from the talismanic figure of Srna causes the Welsh defence some nervy moments early on.
Croatia take the kick-off and we are underway!
Former Wales skipper Aaron Ramsey is Coleman's only change from the Scotland win, Andy King replaces him. While Nikica Jelavic is dropped to the bench as Stimac opts for former Arsenal striker Eduardo in attack.
Wales: Price; Gunter, Williams, Blake, Davies; King, Allen, Vaughan; Bale, Morison, Ledley. Subs: Ramsey, King, Richards, Craig Davies, Robson-Kanu, Wilson, Brown, Fon Williams, Ricketts, Vokes, Church
Croatia : Pletikosa; Srna, Lovren, Simunic, Strinic; Badelj, Modric; Rakitic, Mandzukic, Perisic; Eduardo da Silva. Subs: Kresic, Subasic, Corluka, Pamic, Vukusic, Jelavic, Kalinic, Radosevic, Kranjcar, Vida, Cruz Campos, Schildenfeld.
Wales, currently on three points, sit fourth in Group A behind Serbia. With tonight's hosts level on points at the top of the group with seven points alongside Belgium.
Igor Stimac's Croatia side will be a tough assignment for the visitors. With the likes of Srna, Eduardo and Modric at their disposal, the third placed team at the 1998 World Cup are certainly favourites to claim all three points.
Chris Coleman's Dragons are looking to build on their first win under his management. The 2-1 victory over Scotland, thanks almost single handedly to Gareth Bale, could be a vital win on the road to Brazil 2014 for the Welsh.
Croatia kick-off and we are underway!
Good evening ladies and gents! Welcome to Goal.com's play-by-play coverage of Croatia vs Wales LIVE! I'm Husmukh Kerai and I'll be taking you through all the action from Osijek.
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