Wednesday, 6 July, 2022

Kramaric penalty rescues Croatia against France

Kramaric penalty rescues Croatia against France
Croatia forward Andrej Kramaric celebrates after scoring a penalty during a UEFA Nations League match against France at Stadion Poljud in Split on Monday. –AFP PHOTO

Andrej Kramaric scored a late penalty as Croatia salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to world champions France on Monday that left both teams still chasing a first win in the Nations League.

Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot fired France ahead on 52 minutes in Split as coach Didier Deschamps selected an inexperienced side without star forwards Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema.

Croatia equalised seven minutes from time when Andrej Kramaric won and converted a spot-kick.

"We did some good things taking into account all the changes. We were ahead and we could have got the second goal. It's a shame we gave them the equaliser with the penalty," Deschamps told M6.

"Of course the result doesn't fully satisfy me. But there's tiredness to factor in and with all the other matches I'm forced to make changes. It's an ideal preparation for the World Cup."

France and Croatia have just one point apiece in League A, Group 1. France were beaten 2-1 by Denmark in their opening game at home last week, while Croatia crashed to a 3-0 loss to Austria.

Denmark top the section on six points after defeating Austria 2-1 in Vienna in a game that was delayed Monday by an hour and a half because of a power outage.

On a night Luka Modric earned his 150th cap for Croatia, Deschamps handed a number of fringe players the chance to make an impression before the World Cup starts in Qatar in November.

Rabiot broke the deadlock when he was played in by a superb ball from Wissam Ben Yedder, sweeping clinically inside the near post for only his second international goal.

Substitute Antoine Griezmann saw a shot repelled by Livakovic shortly before Croatia were awarded a penalty following a VAR review after it was initially overruled for offside.