Stirring second half comeback sees Croatia beat Russia
By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy
Russia suffered their first defeat under head coach Leonid Slutskiy as
Ante Cacic's impressive Croatia side came from a goal down to win 3-1
in a friendly international in Rostov-on-Don.
Slutskiy, who took over from Fabio Capello in August, looked on course
to maintain his unbeaten record when Fedor Smolov put the hosts ahead
in the first half.
Yet a fine second half performance produced goals for Croatia's Nikola
Kalinic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mario Mandzukic to maintain coach Cacic's
100 percent record after three games since he took over in September.
Slutskiy made numerous changes to the side that beat Portugal 1-0 in Krasnodar
on Saturday, and despite making a nervy start, Russia opened the scoring
with a lovely team goal after 14 minutes.
Roman Shirokov's intelligent pass found Alexei Ionov galloping
down the right. His cross was perfectly weighted for the on-rushing Smolov,
who planted a header past Croatia keeper Lovre Kalinic for his fourth
Midway through the first half, Juventus striker Mandzukic had a great
chance after being put through one-on-one with Yuri Lodygin but the Russian
goalkeeper produced a fine save.
Croatia equalised 12 minutes after halftime as Russia were caught on the
counter-attack. Sime Vrsaljko found himself clear down the right flank
and crossed for Kalinic, who turned the ball past substitute goalkeeper
Artem Rebrov from close range.
Three minutes later, the visitors took the lead after a stunning goal
by midfielder Brozovic, who collected the ball on the edge of the penalty
area, before curling a fine effort past Rebrov.
Mandzukic sealed victory for the Croats in the 82nd minute. Again Cacic's
side broke down the right and, from close range, the 29-year-old scored
his 20th goal for his country.
* * *
Russia 1-3 Croatia
November 17, 2015
Rostov-na-Donu. Stadion Olimp 2
Referee: C. Turpin (France)
Russia: Y. Lodygin (A. Rebrov, 46), R. Shishkin, V. Vasin (S. Ignashevich,
89), A. Semenov, D. Kombarov (I. Novoseltsev, 65), A. Yusupov, D. Glushakov
(P. Mamaev, 71), R. Shirokov (c), A. Ionov (V. Ignatyev, 65), F. Smolov,
D. Cheryshev (A. Dzyuba, 70)
Coach: Leonid Slutski
Portugal: L. Kalinic (I. Vargic, 90+1), D. Srna (S. Vrsaljko, 46), D.
Vida, M. Leskovic, J. Pivaric, N. Kalinic (G. Milovic, 75), I. Mocinic,
M. Brozovic, M. Badelj, I. Perisic, M. Mandzukic (c) (A. Kramaric, 87)
Coach: A. Cacic
Goals: F. Smolov (14), N. Kalinic (57), M. Brozovic (60), M. Mandzukic
Yellow cards: I. Perisic (29), D. Vida (37)