Croatia rallies to beat stubborn Senegal 2-1

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Croatia forward Andrej Kramaric staked a strong claim on Friday to break into their starting line-up for their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup match against Nigeria.

He scored the winner in a comeback 2-1 home win over Senegal in a pulsating friendly.

Kramaric produced a superb all-round performance after coming on as a halftime substitute.

He injected life into a toothless Croatian side, which fell behind to an Ismaila Sarr goal in the 48th minute.

Winger Ivan Perisic equalised with a heavily-deflected free kick.

Thereafter, Kramaric showed a killer instinct in the penalty area, drilling in a rebound after a Senegalese defender blocked his first shot.

The Croatians open their Group D campaign against Nigeria on June 16 before taking on Argentina and Iceland.

Senegal face Poland on June 19 in Group H, followed by games against Japan and Colombia.

Croatia dominated possession in the first half, but their ineffective 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mario Mandzukic as the lone striker, created no clear-cut chances while Senegal always looked dangerous on the break.

The visitors silenced a packed and passionate home crowd in Osijek as Sarr latched on to a delightful long ball by Alfred N’Diaye from the halfway line.

He then steered it past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Lively Kramaric, whose running enabled Croatia to move up a gear, shaved the crossbar before Perisic levelled from 30 metres.

The ball struck a defender in the Senegalese wall and left goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo wrong-footed.

The fired-up Croatians kept the visitors on the back foot and Kramaric deservedly grabbed the winner.

He drove a left-footed rebound into the bottom corner after a delightful through ball by captain Luka Modric.

Sadio Mane, who gave Croatia’s defenders a torrid time all evening with his pace and trickery, missed Senegal’s last chance to salvage a draw.

He rattled the woodwork with a free kick.