Croatia beats Georgia 2-1 in Euro 2012 qualifier

Croatia scored two late goals to rally for a hard-fought 2-1 win

over Georgia in a European Championship qualifier on Friday.

Mario Mandzukic equalized in the 76th minute with a close-range

shot after a perfect pass by substitute Tomislav Dujmovic. Nikola

Kalinic netted the winner in the 78th with a low shot from 10

yards.

Georgia took the lead in the 17th with a close-range header by

Jaba Kankava.

”This is how football works,” Kalinic said. ”You have to be

patient 90 minutes. It was tough, but the whole team worked hard

for this victory.”

Croatia had plenty of possession, but created relatively few

chances against a well-organized Georgia defense. The only chance

for Croatia in the first half came in the 26th when Luka Modric

fired a volley from the edge of the penalty zone, but goalkeeper

Giorgi Loria palmed the ball onto the post.

In the second half, Eduardo hit Georgia’s bar in the 58th, and

Darijo Srna’s long-range free-kick hit the post.

With the win, Croatia leads Group F with 13 points. Greece has

11 before playing Malta on Saturday.

”These 3 points are worth the gold,” Srna said. ”We missed a

lot of chances, but it is hard to play against a team like Georgia,

which gives everything to defend.”

Lineups:

Croatia: Vedran Runje, Josip Simunic, Vedran Corluka, Danijel

Pranjic, Ognjen Vukojevic (Tomislav Dujmovic, 71st), Eduardo, Luka

Modric, Darijo Srna, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic (Ivan Klasnic,

71st), Nikica Jelavic (Nikola Kalinic, 46).

Georgia: Giorgi Loria, Akaki Khubutia, Kakha Kaladze, Gia

Grigalava, Guram Kashia (Jano Ananidze, 79th), Jaba Kankava, David

Kvirkvelia, Aleksandr Iashvili (Murtaz Daushvili, 62nd, Zurab

Khizanishvili, David Siradze (Vladimir Dvalishvili, 58th).