- Croatia see off Greece to secure World Cup qualification
- Goalless draw in Piraeus sees Croats win 4-1 on aggregate
- It is a fifth World Cup qualification for the Balkan nation
Croatia have qualified for a second consecutive FIFA World Cup™ after a goalless draw in Greece on Sunday evening secured a 4-1 aggregate victory. It is also a record fifth time that the Croatians have qualified for a major tournament through a play-off.
An emphatic 4-1 victory in the first leg in Zagreb on Thursday was more than enough for the Balkan nation to book their place in the global finals in Russia next year.
Needing to overturn a three-goal deficit, Greece pressed forward to find an opening goal at the Karaiskaki Stadium. However, early efforts from Anastasios Bakasetas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos failed to test Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.
In fact, it was the visitors that went closest to scoring before the break, as Ivan Perisic drilled a long-range shot off the post before the ball bounced away to safety.
Greece kept pushing for goals, but their efforts were unable to pull them back into this play-off tie. Konstantinos Mitroglou had an early chance after the break, while substitute Dimitrios Pelkas found the back of the Croatia net, but the goal was called back for offside.
It was Croatia that celebrated qualification to Russia 2018 in Piraeus at the final whistle, with their first-leg result proving to be the difference, in the end.
Croatia have now qualified for five World Cup finals, having finished third in their maiden appearance at France 1998. They also appeared at Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006, and Brazil 2014.