Croatia seals Nations League semi-final place with win in Austria

Croatia qualified for the Nations League semifinals next year as defender Dejan Lovren marked his return to the team with a rare goal in a comprehensive 3-1 victory over relegated Austria in Vienna on Sunday.

Croatia‘s Marko Livaja celebrates scoring their second goal with Luka Modric

Croatia‘s Marko Livaja celebrates scoring their second goal with Luka Modric | Photo Credit: REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

Croatia qualified for the Nations League semifinals next year as defender Dejan Lovren marked his return to the team with a rare goal in a comprehensive 3-1 victory over relegated Austria in Vienna on Sunday.

Croatia qualified for the Nations League semifinals next year as defender Dejan Lovren marked his return to the team with a rare goal in a comprehensive 3-1 victory over relegated Austria in Vienna on Sunday.

Lovren, playing his first international in almost a year, scored the third goal for the visitor, which topped League A Group 1 with 13 points from six matches, one point ahead of second-placed Denmark. Austria finished bottom.

Luka Modric gave Croatia an early lead with his 23rd international goal as he took a touch to control Nikola Vlasic’s pass and fired low into the net.

That joy was short-lived as Austria equalised three minutes later when Christoph Baumgartner glanced Marcel Sabitzer's cross into the net with a deft header.

But two goals in three minutes midway through the second period sealed the points for Croatia as Marko Livaja headed home at the back post after a cross from Ivan Perisic, before Lovren was left free by the home defenders to score with a header from Lovro Majer’s cross.

Despite the loss, it was a special night for home forward Marko Arnautovic, who won an Austrian record 104th international cap and moved past Andreas Herzog at the top of the country’s list of most appearances.

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