Clinical Mandzukic keeps Croatia ticking

Sun Oct 9, 2016 2:12pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Striker Mario Mandzukic continued his fine scoring form with an opportunist header as Croatia beat Finland 1-0 in their World Cup Group I qualifier in Tampere on Sunday.

The towering target man, who netted a hat-trick in Thursday's 6-0 away rout of Kosovo, pounced in the 18th minute after Andrej Kramaric turned an inviting Sime Vrsaljko cross into his path.

The result left Croatia top of the section on seven points from three games.

Looking a little flat after demolishing the Kosovans, Croatia were in control apart from a spell of second-half sporadic pressure from the home side.

The home side failed to create a clear-cut chance on a difficult pitch while, at the other end, Ivan Perisic hit the inside of the post in the 75th minute after a solo run.

Finland keeper Lukas Hradecky twice denied substitute Duje Cop in the closing stages as the home team ran out of steam and Croatia finished on a high note.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Neil Robinson)