Croatia laboured to a 3-0 win at home to Malta with second-half substitutes Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and Josip Brekalo scoring to put the 2018 World Cup runners-up top of Group H.
Malta defended well in the first 45 minutes, with the home side having no dangerous opportunities to score. The Maltese were even denied a penalty when defender Juranovic appeared to handle the ball inside the area which the Swiss official ignored.
The Croatian coach went for plan B in the second 45 minutes, introducing the big guns, including former Balon d’Or Winner and Real Madrid star Luka Modric. It was Inter’s Perisic who opened the score for the hosts. 14 minutes from time, Croatia were awarded a penalty themselves which Modric converted. Brekalo secured the three points in the last minute of the game.
Croatia have six points from three games, ahead of Russia on goal difference after they lost 2-1 to Slovakia for whom Robert Mak struck the winner in the 74th minute.
Photo credit – Malta Football Association