Serbia seal World Cup berth as Croatia reach play-offs
Serbia 1-0 Georgia

Serbia seal World Cup berth as Croatia reach play-offs

09/10/2017

Serbia qualified for the 2018 World Cup after a 74th-minute goal by substitute Aleksandar Prijovic gave them a 1-0 home win over Georgia on Monday and enabled them to finish top of Europe's Group D with 21 points from 10 games.

It is the second time Serbia have reached the finals as an independent nation, having been knocked in the group stages of the 2010 tournament in South Africa and then missing the next three major soccer events.

Prijovic grabbed the winner with a fine finish to delight anxious home fans in Red Star's Rajko Mitic stadium, who lit flares to celebrate after he scored while fireworks were set off by the organisers after the final whistle.

"Thank you very much for your fantastic support and we look forward to playing for you in Russia," Serbia's captain Branislav Ivanovic said in an on-pitch address to the crowd.

Striker Andrej Kramaric struck two superb second-half goals to grab second spot in Group I for Croatia and a place in the playoffs, as they beat Ukraine 2-0 in their final World Cup qualifier in Kiev on Monday.

Having sacked manager Ante Cacic and replaced him with Zlatko Dalic after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday, the Croatians still looked shaky, winning two corners in the first two minutes but doing little else in the opening half.

Needing a win to grab second place in the group, the home side took control, wasting two great chances around the half-hour mark, with Taras Stepanenko driving a powerful shot outside the post and Yevhen Konoplyanka heading just wide moments later.

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