Modric fires Croatia into Euro knockouts

Captain Luka Modric has scored a brilliant goal in Croatia's Euro 2020 win over Scotland.
Captain Luka Modric has scored a brilliant goal in Croatia's Euro 2020 win over Scotland.

Luka Modric has curled home a magnificent finish as Croatia shrugged off a slow start to the European Championship to beat Scotland 3-1 and progress the last 16 in style, while leaving their opponents again on the tournament scrapheap.

Nikola Vlasic and Ivan Perisic were also on target for Croatia in a victory that lifted Zlatko Dalic's side, so leggy and unconvincing in their first two games, to second in Group D on four points.

They finished ahead, on goals scored, of the Czech Republic, who lost 1-0 to group winners England.

Croatia next face the runner-up of Group E - where Sweden, Slovakia, Spain and Poland are all still jockeying for position - in Copenhagen on June 28.

Scotland, who scored their only goal of the tournament through Callum McGregor, finished bottom of the pile on one point.

Deprived of Billy Gilmour, who failed a COVID-19 test in the build-up, Scotland seemed lacking in midfield in Glasgow and Croatia bossed the ball, dominating possession for large periods before deservedly taking the lead after 17 minutes as Vlasic scored his sixth goal for his country.

There seemed little danger when a cross from the right floated towards the far post but Perisic towered above his marker to head down for Vlasic to swivel and finish low into bottom corner.

The goal drained the life out of Hampden Park but Scotland struck back as the clocked ticked towards halftime.

Croatia failed to clear a cross from the left and it fell at the feet of McGregor just outside the box.

He took a touch and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner to score his first goal for his country, and Scotland's first in any major tournament for 23 years, breathing life back into the home crowd.

The reprieve did not last long.

Scotland's John McGinn wasted a great chance when he failed to get a proper connection on the ball from less than a metre out at the far post and that was punished at the other end by Modric's moment of inspiration.

Croatia worked the ball nicely around the box before teeing up Modric from 20 metres and he shaped the ball delicately with the outside of his foot into the far corner to restore Croatia's lead after 62 minutes.

Perisic applied the coup de grace in the 77th minute, sending a glancing header from a corner into the net, ensuring that Scotland's dreadful run of never making the knockouts at a major tournament in 11 attempts continued.

Australian Associated Press