Croatia beat Armenia, advance to finals of Euro 2024 qualifiers

Berlin, Nov 22 (Agency) Ante Budimir’s goal helped Croatia finish second in Group D after beating stubborn Armenia 1-0 on the last matchday of UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying.Croatia started strongly, knowing that only a victory would ensure an automatic berth for next year’s finals in Germany. The hosts pressed Armenia on the back foot and came close on 13 minutes when Andrej Kramaric tested Armenia goalkeeper Ognjen Cancarevic following a corner. Cancarevic had to be on guard again in the 22nd minute when Budimir attempted a dangerous header on target. The defensive-minded visitors nearly opened the scoring out of the blue, but Kamo Hovhannisyan couldn’t beat Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic following a one-on-one at the half-hour mark. Croatia responded well and increased the pressure as Luka Ivanusec pulled wide from a promising position. Budimir broke the deadlock after heading home from Borna Sosa’s pinpoint cross in the43rd minute.

After the restart, Croatia remained in control of proceedings but failed to add to its advantage. Defender Styopa Mkrtchyan cleared a cross off the line, while Cancarevic saved another two attempts in quick succession. With the victory, Group D runner-up Croatia secured its sixth successive European Championship finals appearance, while Türkiye topped the group after playing out a 1-1 stalemate with Wales,who now faces the play-offs after finishing third in the group. Also on Tuesday, Group B leader France shared the spoils with Greece in a 2-2 draw, while the Netherlands finished second after cruising past Gibraltar 6-0.