Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018: Win or bust for Iceland against Croatia

Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018: Win or bust for Iceland against Croatia

Soccer: World Cup, Argentina vs Croatia, preliminary round, Group D, 2nd match day in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

A win or a draw against Iceland clinches first place for Croatia, and they still likely would top the group even if they lost and Nigeria won because the African nation would need to make up a five-goal deficit in the goal-differential tiebreaker.

Iceland and Croatia know each other well, with coach Heimir Hallgrimsson likening the pair to old flames due to the number of times they have met in recent years. "The players should have a lot of credit for this game. We have our own style of play and we are going to stick to it while being watchful on their long balls and set pieces", Dalic said.

"It was a bit of a shock to concede one, but we did not give up", he said.

As expected, Croatia bossed the midfield and Iceland were content to hit on the break, playing with no fear.

It started to press higher, putting Croatia on the backfoot.

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On the stroke of halftime, Aron Gunnarsson fired an angled shot that was bound for the top corner until Lovre Kalinic tipped it away.

Milan Badelj hit a sweet half-volley for his side early in the second half, and Ivan Perisic struck in a 90th-minute victor for Croatia after Gylfi Sigurdsson had pulled Iceland level from the penalty spot.

Iceland had to claim their first ever World Cup victory to have a chance of advancing and, urged on by fans chanting their famous Viking thunderclap, nearly equalised immediately.

A 76th minute penalty from Gylfi Sigurdsson, cooly dispatched into the roof of the net as if a riposte to the crucial spot kick miss against Nigeria last Friday, looked to have secured a point for Iceland before Perisic's late strike sucked any remaining wind from the Icelandic sails.

The Iceland defender Sverrir Ingason almost scored twice just moments later, heading just over and then again off the crossbar.

Iceland's hopes were up again, but Perisic's cool finish after he slipped into the left side of the area made sure there would be no fairy tale to tell for the Icelanders.

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