Kazakhstan 1-2 Croatia: Last-Gasp Win Not Enough As Croats Crash Out
Croatia managed a late, late win over tenaciousKazakhstan in Astana, but still miss out on World Cup 2010.
A win for Ukraine over Andorra sees Croatia finish third behind the former Soviet side, who enter the play-offs while group winners England qualify automatically.
It was a cruel defeat for the Kazakhs, whose goalkeeper, Alexandr Mokin of Ordabasy, put in an heroic showing right until the death.
It seemed as though it would be a routine win for the visitors as Ognjen Vukojevic netted early on, but an equaliser from Sergey Khizhnichenko twenty-five minutes in changed all that.
Croatia continued to press after that equaliser and should have gone ahead shortly before the break through Mario Mandzukic, but home ‘keeper Mokin was in inspired form.
Indeed, he seemed to have saved the day as with just one minute left he found himself beaten only to see a Niko Kranjcar effort smash off the crossbar.
But three minutes into stoppage time, Spurs ace Kranjcar headed home to give Croatia a win that, while welcome, was neither convincing nor sufficient enough for qualification.