Malta 1-7 Croatia: World Cup qualifying – Croatia set up showdown with Russia

Lovro Majer scored his first international goals for Croatia

Croatia will host Russia on Sunday in Group H’s final match to decide who qualifies automatically for the 2022 World Cup after both recorded big wins.

Luka Modric was among the goalscorers for 2018 finalists Croatia as they thrashed Malta 7-1 in Ta’ Qali.

Meanwhile, Russia hit five second-half goals as they beat visitors Cyprus 6-0.

Russia lead the group by two points, so a draw on Sunday would secure top spot and World Cup qualification, with the runners-up earning a play-off spot.

Aleksandr Erokhin scored in each half for Russia against Cyprus in St Petersburg, with Fedor Smolov, Andrey Mostovoy, Aleksei Sutormin and Anton Zabolotny also on target in the last 35 minutes.

The win ensures they go into Sunday’s game in Split with a slight advantage.

Ivan Perisic fired Croatia into a sixth-minute lead in Malta as he steered the ball into an empty net and Duje Caleta-Car doubled their advantage when he headed home Modric’s free-kick.

Marcelo Brozovic’s own goal pulled one back for the hosts, before Mario Pasalic and Modric made it 4-1 at half-time.

Croatia, nine points clear of third-placed Slovakia so guaranteed a play-off place whatever happens in the final game, did not ease up in the second half as Lovro Majer scored twice and Andrej Kramaric netted with a low finish.

Line-ups

Malta

Formation 3-4-3

1Bonello

2Shaw5Agius13Pepe

20Attard19Kristensen17Teuma3Camenzuli

7Mbong9Montebello18Degabriele

1Bonello2ShawSubstituted forMicallefat 83’minutes5Agius13PepeBooked at 79mins20Attard19KristensenSubstituted forPisaniat 45’minutes17TeumaSubstituted forGuillaumierat 63’minutes3Camenzuli7MbongSubstituted forDimechat 69’minutes9MontebelloSubstituted forSatarianoat 62’minutes18DegabrieleSubstitutes4Micallef6Guillaumier8Grech10Pisani11Mbong12Grech14Satariano15Vella16Galea21Dimech22Portelli23Caruana

Croatia

Formation 4-3-3

12Grbic

22Juranovic5Caleta-Car20Gvardiol3Sosa

10Modric11Brozovic15Pasalic

19Majer9Kramaric4Perisic

12Grbic22Juranovic5Caleta-Car20Gvardiol3Sosa10ModricSubstituted forVlasicat 54’minutes11BrozovicSubstituted forJakicat 45’minutes15PasalicSubstituted forLivajaat 62’minutes19Majer9KramaricSubstituted forPetkovicat…..

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