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Lively Perisic inspires Croatia to 2-1 win over Wales

Lively Perisic inspires Croatia to 2-1 win over Wales
Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group E - Croatia v Wales - Stadion Gradski vrt, Osijek, Croatia - June 8, 2019 Croatia's Ivan Perisic in action with Wales' Jamie Lawrence REUTERS/Antonio Bronic -
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OSIJEK, Croatia (Reuters) – Croatia provisionally went top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group E after winger Ivan Perisic scored one goal and set up another to help the 2018 World Cup runners-up to a 2-1 home win over Wales on Saturday.

The result left Croatia top of the group on six points from three games, three ahead of Slovakia, Wales and Hungary. Azerbaijan, who have no points, were playing at home to Hungary in the day’s other fixture (1600 GMT).

Perisic blazed two shots over the bar before he set up Croatia’s 17th-minute opener, when Welsh defender James Lawrence fired the winger’s sharp low cross into his own net past stranded goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Perisic made it 2-0 early in the second half after he got on the end of a loose ball in the penalty area and drove it past Hennessey from 10 metres with his weaker right foot.

Gareth Bale twice came close for the Welsh before substitute David Brooks pulled a goal back in the 77th minute, beating Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic with a deflected shot from 20 metres.

The visitors piled on the pressure in the closing stages and midfielder Harry Wilson missed a gilt-edged chance to grab a late equaliser, heading a teasing Bale cross over the bar from five metres.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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