Croatia 4-1 Greece: 5 Talking Points
Croatia all but seal their place for the FIFA showpiece in Russia next year as they brushed a woebegone Greek outfit by 4-1 in Zagreb to take a big lead into the return leg next week.
Luka Modric, Nikola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric all found the net as the Croats put a shambolic Greece to the sword.
A string of blunders at the back cost the visitors a heavy penalty, as they now have a monumental task at hand in the return on Monday.
Here are some of the main talking points from the match:
#1 Croatia have one foot in the finals
Whilst the failure to seal a direct qualification came as a major disappointment from a Croatian side equipped with star names in their arsenal, The Blazers seemed pretty determined to make up for all the losses in the play-offs.
With a resounding 4-1 win over a stuttering Greece in the first leg, it was not only a night of redemption, but also all but secured a place in the World Cup finals.
The hosts flew out of the blocks right from the opening whistle; with fast and full-blooded assaults on the Greek half, throwing the visitors under the bus. Driven by the excellent midfield pairing of Luka Modric and Andrej Kramaric, Croatia looked a different beast than how they fared in the final few games of the qualifiers.
Greece's clumsy showings at the back leading to subtle errors only helped their cause further.
The hosts were not to play ducks and drakes with the gifted chances as they ruthlessly pounced on every error by the Greek backline, deepening their woes.
Nicola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kamaric all made most of the opportunities presented to them, with skipper Modric triggering the onslaught with a penalty resulting from a needless foul by Greek custodian Orestis Karnezis.
Whilst it was the terrible defending by Greeks that made it all the more easy for Croatia, the latter did show their clinical best with their chances. And now, they are on their way to Russia.