Croatia beats Malta 3-0 in European qualifier

Niko Kranjcar scored twice Wednesday as Croatia beat Malta 3-0

in a qualifying for the 2012 European Championship.

The Tottenham midfielder scored with a hard shot from outside

the penalty box in the 18th minute after Croatia had dominated from

the start. Teammate Eduardo da Silva missed a chance six minutes

later, but Kranjcar added another goal in the 42nd from the edge of

the penalty area.

Malta fought back in the second half and Michael Mifsud wasted a

chance when his effort went over the bar. Croatia forward Nikola

Kalinic scored in the 81st minute to wrap up the game.

Croatia leads Group F with 10 points, two more than second-place

Greece, which has played a game less.

This is the first year in which Croatia hasn’t lost a match

since first playing international football in 1990. Croatia won

seven and drew three games in 2010.

The match also marked the 20th anniversary of Croatia’s first

match – against the United States – after the nation seceded from

the former Yugoslavia.

Lineups:

Croatia: Vedran Runje, Vedran Corluka, Danijel Pranjic, Ivan

Rakitc (Ivo Ilicevic, 68), Eduardo da Silva (Mario Mandzukic, 77),

Luka Modric, Darijo Srna, Gordon Schildenfeld, Tomislav Dujmovic,

Niko Kranjcar, Mladen Petric (Nikola Kalinic, 60).

Malta: Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Shaun Bajada, Gareth

Sciberras (Paul Fenech, 88), John Hutchinson, Massimo Grima,

Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud, Daniel Bogdanovic (Kevin Sammut,

81), Andre Schembri (Ryan Fenech, 69), Jamie Pace.