Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

What You Need To Know About World Cup 2018 Playoffs

What You Need To Know About World Cup 2018 Playoffs

However, Switzerland dominated the match and gave a master class in one-touch football to pick apart their hosts in the first half, helped by the fact that Northern Ireland afforded them far too much space. Not exactly fair, but enough to give Switzerland a huge advantage en route to the second leg on Sunday in Basel.

"Corry's arm isn't in an unnatural position, it's by his side. Nobody had claimed for it".

Croatia capitalised on a dismal Greece defensive display to take a commanding lead after the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off in Zagreb.

Having had a hand in the first goal, forcing a foul from goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis to win a penalty that was converted by Luka Modric, Nikola Kalinic steered home a second from close range.

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It was not long before the Croats doubled their lead, as Ivan Strinic sprinted down the left, overcame the resistance of Yiannis Maniatis and crossed the ball toward the six-yard box where Kalinic back-flicked the ball into the net on the 19th minute.

The visitors pulled one back on the half-hour mark when captain Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored a header from a corner.

But Croatia controlled proceedings with 59% of possession and 17 shots at goal as Modric and Perisic consistently linked well in midfield, while Atletico Madrid right-back Vrsaljko impressed in creating his side's third and fourth goals.

Greece, a team that once turned winning while attacking as little as possible into an art form, were away to a resolute Croatia with its star striker on the bench in what is usually a cagey first leg.

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"It was a great match". The first half ended in a two goal lead, but Kalinic scored his second of the match just before the 50th minute, making it hard to believe that Greece will somehow make it to the World Cup.

Dalic was named as coach in October after Ante Cacic was sacked following a damaging 1-1 home draw with Finland, as the team ultimately finished a disappointing second to Iceland in Group I.

"No euphoria, we have to play in Athens as if it is 0-0", Dalic said after the match. "Of course, we will fight on Sunday but we also have to be realistic".

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