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WC Qualification Europe
March 26, 2013
• Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Referee: L. Banti
• Attendance: 12534
G. Bale 21'
D. Lovren 77'
Eduardo Da Silva 87'
Wales can certainly be pleased with their showing, but on the night Croatia's quality was able to shine through. Wales just could not keep up their intensity from the first half. Thank you for joining me tonight, I hope you have enjoyed the match. Feel free to find me on Twitter (@RyanRyanBenson). Thank you , and good night!
90' + 3'
Full-time in Swansea and Croatia have taken the three points after coming from behind to win 2-1.
90' + 1'
Mandzukic and Collins clash, resulting in a free kick for Wales. The two players subsequently square up to each other and Collins' hand appears to lightly strike Mandzukic in the face. The Bayern man contemplated going down there, but he decided against it. No punishment for either player.
The hosts have hardly touched the ball in the two minutes or so since the goal. Wales have three minutes to get an equaliser.
GOAL!!! Croatia take the lead at the Liberty Stadium! Ivica Olic has been excellent since coming on and he puts in another impressive cross from the left. Rakitic goes in to head it but misses, allowing Eduardo to take a touch and fire the ball into the net, low and hard past Myhill.
Not long left now. Croatia have almost everyone in the Wales half and they are really going for this.
Wales win a free kick on the right, but Bale's delivery goes straight into the hands of Pletikosa. Disappointing cross.
Excellent move by Croatia! Kovacic plays a delightful lofted pass over to Rakitic on the left. Rakitic proceeds to beat Gunter and then cuts the ball back to Olic in a magnificent position, but he fires his shot well over.
Modric pulling the strings for Croatia as he plays a good pass forward into the area, but it is just a little too far ahead of Olic.
That goal seems to have spurred Croatia on even more as they continue to probe for a goal. Rakitic does well in possession and picks out Kovacic. The youngster then plays a pass in towards Mandzukic, but the Bayern man was looking elsewhere and the attack dies.
GOAL!!! Croatia equalise in Swansea! The visitors put together a series of passes around the Wales penalty area, but the solidity of the hosts' defence forces Croatia to move the ball back. With lots of red shirts in front of him, Lovren fires an brilliant strike towards goal and it flies in after evading Myhill.
Nothing comes of the corner, which I'm sure won't surprise you and Croatia are back on the attack.
Wales don't have much longer to hold on and they are still showing ability on the attack. Bellamy's low cross is put behind by Lovren for a corner.
Ivica Olic has his first involvement since coming on as he tries to trick his way past Gunter with a couple of step-overs before crossing low, but Andy King knocks it away.
Rakitic moves out wide to collect the ball and then crosses from the right. His ball almost sneaks inside the post, but Myhill pounces on it.
In goes the free kick, but Croatia get it clear with ease. That one thing that has been rather poor in this match; set-piece deliveries.
Yellow CardMateo Kovačić
Good play by Bale as he takes the ball on and tries to drive between Kovacic and Strinic. The young midfielder brings Bale down and receives a yellow card.
Their insistence on playing short corners is unwise again as they waste a very good opportunity. Stimac's side are running out of time.
Corluka and Srna attack down the right and win Croatia yet another corner.
Yellow CardLuka Modric
These substitutions haven't helped the flow of the match in truth. It is has been a very broken 10 minutes or so, but Wales will be pleased.
The match is getting increasingly scrappy now, with lots of fouls being given. This suits Wales far more than their visitors.
Wales, and more specifically Bellamy, are left very angry as the forward beats his man, gets into the box and then crosses, only for his delivery to be deflected behind. Wales are adamant they should have a corner. Replays, however, show that the referee was right. It came off Bellamy.
Modric gets the ball short from the corner and puts a teasing ball right across the face of the goal, but somehow no one gets a touch on it. Very good chance for the visitors.
Nothing comes directly from the corner, but the ball ends up with Rakitic on the far side of the penalty area. The Sevilla man chips a cross in left footed and Mandzukic gets a shot away, but Myhill produces and incredible save to deny him. Another corner.
In a bid to calm the crowd down once again, Croatia slow the tempo and keep possession. Eventually Sammir crosses, but it is deflected for a corner.
Great effort from William! The ball drops kindly for the Crystal Palace youngster on the edge of the area and he lashes a half-volley just wide.
A poor ball across the pitch by Srna gives Wales a good chance to attack. Jonny Williams intercepts and then tries to play a ball through for Bellamy, but it is just a little too heavy.
Croatia's domination has been far more noticeable in this second half so far. Wales are struggling to get any meaningful possession, while Jonny Williams and Gareth Bale have been very quiet since the break.
Great chance for Croatia! Rakitic plays in another corner and Eduardo connects very well with it, but he heads the ball just wide.
Rakitic curls the corner in and after flashing across the goal, Mandzukic hooks it back into the danger area, but Jonny Williams boots it away.
Strinic and Eduardo combine down the left and the forward's attempt cross wins yet another corner.
Lovren does well to meet the corner with his head, but his effort goes wide.
Sammir is involved again a minute later, this time in a more central position as he fires a shot towards goal, but it is deflected behind. Another corner.
Croatia win the first corner of the half as Sammir breezes past Gunter but has his cross put behind by Ledley.
Lively start to the second half as both sides try to get the ball moving with intent. Croatia have made a noticeable formation change and they are now playing 3-5-2.
The teams are back out and Croatia get the match restarted.
Come on then folks, what do you think of that first half? Will Croatia sort themselves out after the break, or will Wales get even further ahead? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter: @RyanRyanBenson
Half-time in Swansea as Wales take 1-0 lead into the break. Entertaining first half, and the hosts are probably just about deserving of that lead.
Wales living a risky existence at the moment. Srna plays a great pass over the top for Mandzukic who controls with his chest and then shoots for the bottom corner, but a deflection from Collins fortuitously puts the ball into Myhill's hands.
Croatia seem to have got worse as this first half as progressed, but they still look potent in the final third, if a little wasteful.
Yellow CardHal Robson-Kanu
Good play again by Bale, this time down the left as he beats his man and then finds Craig Bellamy in the area, but Pletikosa saves his deflected shot.
Ledley gets the ball and immediately plays it over the defence for Bale, who somehow beats the offside trap and is one-on-one with Pletikosa, yet the Tottenham man managed to put his shot over the bar, much to the bemusement of the crowd. That was a huge let-off for the visitors.
Croatia get forward as Rakitic plays a heavy pass out to Srna on the right. The captain manages to keep it in and then knocks it past Robson-Kanu before being brought down by the Reading man, but the referee gives nothing and Wales counter.
Wales are straight back on the front foot after that Mandzukic chance. Davies wins a header down the left, knocking it on for Hal Robson-Kanu who gets to the area and squares to Bale on the edge of the box, but Pletikosa parries his shot away.
Mandzukic gets free of the Wales defence, slows down and then runs at Collins. The forward beats Collins and shoots from a tight angle, but he slices his effort and it goes wide. He really should have done better. Another good chance for Croatia.
What a relief for Wales! Croatia string together a very good move on the edge of the Welsh area and it ends with Sammir teeing up Badelj, whose driven shot flies just wide of the post. Myhill was completely beaten there.
Croatia play the free kick short and effectively waste the possession. Eventually Modric gets a shot a way which is deflected into the hands of Myhill.
Free kick for Croatia as Ashley Williams is deemed to have fouled Mandzukic in the area. Good position to launch an attack for the visitors.
Croatia are having a great deal of the possession, but their final ball has not been good enough at all. Much to improve on.
Excellent play by young Jonny Williams as he skips away from Strinic's tackle, holds the Dnipro man off and then puts a great cross in. However, none of his team-mates managed to get into the area and Lovren heads it away.
Good move by Croatia. Sammir plays a lovely ball through the Wales midfield for Rakitic. Rakitic knocks a first-time pass out to Srna on the right who smashes a low cross in, but Collins puts it out for a corner.
Wales look even more confident since the goal. They are seeing plenty of the ball and using it well, but Croatia are dangerous.
Penalty GoalGareth Bale
GOAL!!! Wales take the lead in Swansea! Bale stepped up to take the kick and placed it rather centrally, with Pletikosa diving to his right.
Yellow CardDejan Lovren
Great play by Ledley as he plays a one-two with Williams before brilliantly taking the ball round Dejan Lovren in the penalty area, drawing a foul from the Lyon man.
PENALTY TO WALES!
Croatia are doing a good job at restricting Wales' time on the ball, currently. They are also keeping Bale rather quiet with Modric and Badelj operating from deep.
Good combination play down the right between Rakitic and Srna. Eventually the Sevilla midfielder crosses from deep, but James Collins knocks it out for a corner just before either Mandzukic or Eduardo can send it goalwards.
In the same period of play, the ball drops to Mandzukic in the six-yard box, but his attempted scissor-kick goes just wide.
Srna plays his corner short to Modric whose cross goes out towards the far corner flag. Rakitic keeps it in play and sticks his cross right on to Eduardo's head, but the forward's effort bounces off the floor and then Boaz Myhill palms it away.
Good chance for Croatia! Modric plays a great pass through for Mandzukic who in turn threads Eduardo into the area. Eduardo halts, knocks it back for Sammir to shoot, but his strike is deflected behind.
The corner is centered, but Pletikosa punches it away and Croatia look to spring a counterattack.
Wales hit a long ball rather hopefully beyond the Croatia defence and luckily Bale is chasing it down. Corluka looks to bring it under control, but the former Tottenham man just heads the ball behind for a corner.
Croatia are playing some nice stuff so far, with plenty of intricate passes and good movement. Wales are seeing plenty of the ball, too, however.
Yellow CardVedran Corluka
Bale lines the effort up, but his attempt goes comfortably over Pletikosa's goal.
Good play by Bale as he gets the ball deep and surges forward, jolting away from Milan Badelj before Vedran Corluka callously brings him down. Excellent position for a free kick.
Great play Eduardo down the left as he skips past Chris Gunter and cuts the ball into the area from the byline, but Ashley Williams gets in the way of Mario Mandzukic.
Ivan Strinic plays a poor pass to Luka Modric and Gareth Bale gets a foot in, knocking the ball to Wiliams. The youngster charges at the defence, getting past Strinic but Modric halts him and takes the ball away.
Lovely bit of play by Jonny Williams as he gets the ball on the right, beats his man, cuts inside and then plays a delightful pass to the other side of the pitch with the outside of the foot. Little comes of the move, but it was a good move.
Wales try to keep possession in their own half, but Ben Davies puts it out of play on the left. Throw-in for Croatia.
We're off in Swansea!
There has been a slight delay at the beginning of this match as Pletikosa complained about the penalty spot not being wide enough, so the groundsmen had to get the paint out.
Before we get started, let's talk predictions! I am going to have to go with an away win. Wales are missing key men, while this Croatia side is rather good. 1-3 Croatia for me. What do you think? Send your predictions to me on Twitter: @RyanRyanBenson
The only player in the Croatia squad to have scored more international goals than Srna (20) is Eduardo da Silva (26).
Stipe Pletikosa and Darijo Srna are getting their 102nd caps for Croatia tonight.
The last time the two sides met, Igor Stimac's side came out on top with a 2-0 win. Croatia dominated proceedings in October, maintaining 76 per cent of possession.
If Wales pick up a win tonight, they will be four points behind Croatia with four matches to play.
After the win over Scotland, a victory against the Croatians would see Wales complete back-to-back competitive wins for the first time since Gary Speed's final two matches in charge.
And the Croatia team: Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Strinic; Rakitic, Modric, Sammir, Badelj; Mandzukic, Eduardo. SUBS: Kresic, Pavlovic, Kovacic, Vukojevic, Jelavic, Schildenfeld, Kalinic, Olic, Petric, Vida, Subasic
First of all, the teams. Here is the Wales squad: Myhill; Gunter, A.Williams, Collins, B.Davies; Ledley, King; Robson-Kanu, J.Williams, Bale; Bellamy. SUBS: Price, Lynch, Nyatanga, Ricketts, Richards, Church, Tudur Jones, Vokes, Easter, Fon Williams
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE play-by-play for the World Cup qualifier between Wales and Croatia. My name is Ryan Benson and I shall be taking you through the action tonight.
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