Ivan Perisic scored a late winner for Croatia, thus eliminating Iceland and maintaining the team's perfect run in the tournament as it heads into the knockout stage.

By Avi Creditor
June 26, 2018

Croatia defeated Iceland 2-1 on Tuesday and topped Group D at the World Cup, thanks to goals from Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic.

The win not only eliminated Iceland out of the World Cup, but it also confirmed Croatia's perfect run in the tournament and sets up a date vs. Denmark in the round of 16. 

Chances were few for both sides early, but Iceland had a good look at goal off a corner kick in the 29th minute. Hordur Magnusson jumped high to meet the set piece, and he connected for a clean header, only to push it wide left of the goal.

Two minutes later, Croatia nearly scored off another set piece, with Gylfi Sigurdsson whipping in a trademark curling free kick only for backup goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic to make the diving save.

Iceland had its best chance in the 40th minute off a giveaway in the back. Sigurdsson found Alfred Finnbogason, who scored in the opener against Argentina, and he tried to curl a right-footed chance inside the near post from 18 yards out, but he put the chance just inches wide of the mark. Given the 1-0 Argentina scoreline, a 1-0 Iceland one would be enough to provisionally send the upstart nation through in second place.

Iceland continued to push for the opener before halftime, and it very nearly came from Aron Gunnarsson, whose curling right-footed blast forced Kalinic into an acrobatic save.

The second half started with Iceland on the front foot as a free kick from Sigurdsson was picked up by the stopper, eventually coming to to avail. The Everton star, however, seemed ready to tacke charge as Iceland kicked off with aggression in the second half.

In the 51st minute, however, a great attempt from Badelj clipped the crossbar. But moments later, his efforts were rewarded when he entered the box and finished a great cross from the left hand side to make it 1-0 to Croatia.

Zlatko Dalic's side looked in control once the goal was scored as a Luka Modric free kick in the 60th minute was just about cleared by Halldorsson. It would eventually be the last contribution from the Real Madrid midfielder as he came off in the 64th minute for Filip Bradaric. 

With 20 minutes remaining, Iceland had a glorious opportunity as Sigurdsson once again creates something out of nothing and feeds Birkir Bjarnason inside the box but the Aston Villa man misjudged the ball. But opportunity came again when a handball inside the box gave a penalty to Iceland. Sigurdsson, who missed earlier in the tournament, scored and his team had equalized.

Iceland pushed for a winner, knowing this result wasn't enough, but tired legs took over as chances were well defended by Croatia, who could afford to be patient and draw out the clock.

In the 88th minute, Andrej Kramaric had a great chance to make it 2-1 but his chance went wide. But in the 89th minute, Perisic grabbed his team's second goal thanks to a great finish from a difficult angle on the left hand side.

In the end, the goal was enough to secure a Croatian victory, thus securing the nation's perfect run in the tournament while Iceland bids farewell to the World Cup after a brave showing in its debut on the stage. 

For the other simultaneous Group D finale, watch the highlights from Nigeria and Argentina here.


Here were the lineups for both teams:


Here are the rosters for both sides:

ICELAND

Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Randers), Runar Alex Runarsson (Nordsjaelland), Frederik Schram (Roskilde)

Defenders: Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Ari Freyr Skulason (Lokeren), Birkir Mar Saevarsson (Valur), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Rostov), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson (Levski Sofia), Ragnar Sigurdsson (Rostov)

Midfielders: Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Malmo), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Olafur Ingi Skulason (Karabukspor), Rurik Gislason (Sandhausen), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City)

Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson (Rostov), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV)

Manager: Heimir Hallgrímsson

CROATIA

Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic (Dinamo Zagreb), Dominik Livakovic (Gent), Danijel Subasic (Monaco)

Defenders: Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg); Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Strinic (AC Milan), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Sime Vrsajlko (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona)

Forwards: Nikola Kalinic (Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Marko Pjaca (Juventus), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Manager: Zlatko Dalic

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