Scotland beats Croatia 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP)

A goal by Robert Snodgrass gave Scotland a surprising 1-0 victory over host Croatia in a World Cup qualifier Friday.

Scotland's goal came in the 26th minute, after Shaun Maloney charged forward and the ball was deflected by Darijo Srna directly to Snodgrass, who slotted it into the net.

Croatia improved after that and pressured the Scots the rest of the way, but failed to convert a number of chances.

Brazilian-born midfielder Sammir missed an empty net in the 37th minute, while two minutes later Ivan Rakitic's header went just wide and Ivica Olic fired high in the 44th.

Croatia continued to create chances in the second half, but Mario Mandzukic shot just wide in the 60th and goalkeeper Allan McGregor saved a header from Eduardo in 64th minute.

Croatia finished with 16 shots on goal, compared to four for Scotland.

Scotland was last in Group A entering the game and was without several of its regular starters, but earned its first victory in the qualifying campaign.

Croatia was previously undefeated but suffered a costly loss in its fight with Belgium for top spot in the group. Belgium beat Serbia 2-1 and is now three points ahead of Croatia atop the group.

''We really did not expect this. We conceded a stupid goal, missed some chances, and lost,'' Croatia defender Gordon Schildenfeld said. ''Now we have to be much better in remaining matches to have chance to qualify.''

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