Croatia complete play-off win over Greece to reach World Cup

Croatia celebrate after their World Cup play-off win over Greece

Croatia’s World Cup place never looked in doubt during the second leg

Croatia qualified for their fifth World Cup after following up their convincing play-off first-leg win over Greece with a dour goalless draw in Athens.

The game only had one shot on target, with the tie over as a contest after Croatia’s 4-1 win in Zagreb.

The visitors went closest, with Ivan Perisic hitting the post from 30 yards.

Greece were much improved from the side called an “unprecedented disgrace” by domestic media in the first leg – but never looked like mounting a comeback.

They should have had a penalty early on when Ivan Strinic fouled Zeca, but Croatia were instead awarded a free-kick. Dimitrios Pelkas put the ball into an empty net late on, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Croatia’s controversial decision to sack Ante Cacic and replace him with Zlatko Dalic – who has not even signed a contract yet – two days before the final group game has ultimately paid off.

The Balkan nation – who have qualified for 10 of 12 major tournaments since independence – did not have any supporters at the game, as both federations agreed to ban away fans from the two legs because of the possibility of violence.

Live Text

Match ends, Greece 0, Croatia 0.

Second Half ends, Greece 0, Croatia 0.

Substitution, Croatia. Matej Mitrovic replaces Luka Modric.

Attempt missed. Dimitrios Pelkas (Greece) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Giannis Gianniotas.

Zeca (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ante Rebic (Croatia).

Attempt missed. Andrej Kramaric (Croatia) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Marcelo Brozovic.

Attempt saved. Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Giannis Gianniotas (Greece) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ante Rebic (Croatia).

Substitution, Croatia. Ante Rebic replaces Ivan Perisic.

Offside, Croatia. Ivan Rakitic tries a through ball, but Luka Modric is caught offside.

Corner, Greece. Conceded by Dejan Lovren.

Attempt blocked. Dimitrios Pelkas (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Panagiotis Tachtsidis.

Offside, Greece. Panagiotis Tachtsidis tries a through ball, but Vasilis Torosidis is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Zeca.

Substitution, Greece. Dimitrios Pelkas replaces Kostas Mitroglou.

Substitution, Croatia. Andrej Kramaric replaces Nikola Kalinic.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Konstantinos Fortounis (Greece) because of an injury.

Konstantinos Fortounis (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Mario Mandzukic (Croatia).

Kostas Mitroglou (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Dejan Lovren (Croatia).

Sokratis (Greece) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mario Mandzukic (Croatia).

Foul by Kostas Mitroglou (Greece).

Marcelo Brozovic (Croatia) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Alexandros Tziolis (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Marcelo Brozovic (Croatia).

Offside, Greece. Konstantinos Fortounis tries a through ball, but Giannis Gianniotas is caught offside.

Foul by Giannis Gianniotas (Greece).

Ivan Strinic (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Greece. Giannis Gianniotas replaces Anastasios Bakasetas.

Substitution, Greece. Konstantinos Fortounis replaces Lazaros Christodoulopoulos.

Attempt missed. Kostas Mitroglou (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Panagiotis Tachtsidis.

Anastasios Bakasetas (Greece) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ivan Rakitic (Croatia).

Attempt blocked. Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Greece) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Corner, Greece. Conceded by Domagoj Vida.

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