Chris Coleman takes pride despite more Balkan woe for Wales

Croatia 2 Wales 0

The Gradski Stadium

Following the euphoria of victory over Scotland, Chris Coleman, the Wales manager, saw his men quickly crash back down to earth after this comprehensive defeat last night.

A month on from the 6-1 humiliation to Croatia's Balkan neighbours Serbia, a similar result could have been seen as the Dragons were outpassed, outplayed and outclassed once again by their Group A rivals.

But Coleman refused to give up hope on World Cup qualification. He said: "We've had very tough games. Even Scotland was tough. I feel better tonight than after Serbia. We showed a lot of passion and heart and we had to in order to stay in the game."

Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic capitalised in the 27th minute on a double error by Ashley Williams and Lewis Price to put Igor Stimac's men ahead. And any Welsh hopes of being bailed out again by Gareth Bale, just four days after the Tottenham winger destroyed the Scots, were ended by Eduardo da Silva's close-range finish on 58 minutes. This defeat in Osijek – just 70 miles from the site of Wales' Serbian nightmare in Novi Sad – leaves Coleman's team already seven points adrift in Group A and their World Cup qualification hopes fading away after just four matches.

Croatia had lost just one of their previous 46 competitive home games, courtesy of a Theo Walcott hat-trick in a 4-1 thumping by England, and they showed why last night with a scarcely believable 29 attempts on goal.

Prior to kick-off Coleman had expressed concern at the state of the pitch, claiming parts were unplayable following a day of torrential rain. Despite the uneven surface, though, Croatia dominated the early proceedings, with Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield.

The Wales goalkeeper Price tipped a 25-yard free-kick from the home captain Darijo Srna around the post before the hosts had a penalty shout waved away in the 14th minute.

Wales finally mustered an attack of their own in the 20th minute – and it was little surprise where the threat came from. Bale cut inside Ivan Perisic on the right flank, but shot wide of Stipe Peltikosa's right-hand post.

That proved only brief respite for Coleman's defence as Milan Badelj was next to test the Crystal Palace keeper Price. For all Croatia's possession and chances, though, it was two poor defensive errors which led to the opener on 27 minutes. In the heavy conditions, the Wales captain Williams played an underhit back pass and Price's clearance was charged down by Mandzukic, who slotted home into an empty net.

That costly and ungainly mistake was not the first of its kind by the Swansea City defender this season and it put the Red Dragons on the back foot.

Coleman added: "We made one mistake and got punished. We have to cut that out, those mistakes and give ourselves a chance."

Price once again came to Wales' rescue when he produced a fine reflex save to deny Eduardo following a dangerous right-wing cross from Srna.

It was one-way traffic after the interval as Price parried Eduardo's left-footed drive then heroically saved with his legs to stop Mandzukic scoring a second time.But there was only so much Wales' last line of defence could do when Croatia doubled the lead on 58 minutes.

Srna delivered a corner from the right, Price saved Perisic's header, but Eduardo was on hand and effortlessly tucked home the rebound.

Before Eduardo crashed the bar, Andy King had Wales' first shot on target with 23 minutes remaining, heading Joe Allen's centre straight at Pletikosa, which completed the misery.

Man of the match Modric.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee A Tudor (Rom).

Attendance 18,000.

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities