Croatia tops Malta in Euro 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.


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.