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Croatia top Group D after 2-1 win over Iceland

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Croatia top Group D after 2-1 win over Iceland

A Croatia fan
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Reuters
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Croatia will play Denmark in the next round after they defeated Iceland 2-1 at the Rostov Arena.

Iceland put up a very spirited fight against a much-changed Croatian side and created plenty of chances but could not find the net. The best of the chances in the first half fell to Finnbogason, who won the ball in the Croatia half and then played a one-two with Sigurdsson, before sliding the ball just wide of the post.

In the second half, Croatia took the lead through Badelj — the ball came in from the left-hand side and Badelj arrived into the area and volleyed the ball off the ground and into the net.

Iceland responded after Sigurdsson broke down the left-hand side and played the ball into the area, where Lovren handled it and a penalty was awarded. Sigurdsson himself took the penalty and fired the ball into the roof of the net.

Croatia won the game through a 90th-minute strike from Ivan Perisic, which saw him slip in behind the defence and fire across the keeper and into the corner to win the game.

Five takeaways from Croatia vs Iceland

Icelandic spirit

Iceland may have lost the game and may be out of the World Cup but they have gained plenty of fans across the world for their spirit and determination. There was only a slim chance of Iceland qualifying from the group and they had to win to do so, with the side creating plenty of chances and only lacking the finish.

Even though they went behind twice they never gave up, including in the 92nd minute when they were still trying to score and earn themselves a point. Iceland have shown all of the smaller nations around the world just what kind of attitude and performance you need.

Luka Modric

In the eyes of some, Luka Modric has been the best midfielder at the World Cup so far and during his time on the pitch he effectively ran Croatia's midfield. Modric was on the ball constantly and was spraying passes around the pitch as he normally does — he also put in his shift defensively and helped keep Iceland at bay for large periods. Modric is crucial for Croatia going forward and they know that. If the midfielder stays fit and can keep his performance at this level, Croatia will have a great chance of progressing through the tournament.

Lots of changes can affect performance

Even though Croatia won the game and have qualified top of the group, their performance will not have completely satisfied them. For large periods their rhythm looked disrupted and they struggled to create chances. Some will say that the nine changes Croatia made coming into the game harmed their performance and this may also send a message to other sides that rotating too heavily can have a negative effect on the team.

Croatian strength in depth

Although the Croatian changes may have affected their performance, it did show their strength in depth. The Croatians played a second choice side and still defeated an Iceland team who put in one of the most spirited performances of the tournament. Although the performance may not have been there for the entire game, the result will please fans and show them that Croatia definitely have the possibility of progressing far into the tournament.

Sigurdsson leads from the front

When Gylfi Sigurdsson won the penalty for Iceland, nobody was sure whether he would take the penalty himself, having missed a crucial penalty against Nigeria. Yet, he demanded the ball and fired Iceland level, showing, once again, his leadership qualities and how important he is to the squad.

Correction: This article has been modified to show Croatia beat Iceland 2-1.