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Croatia finish off Greece to qualify for 2018 World Cup

Ukraine v Croatia - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier

KIEV, UKRAINE - OCTOBER 09: Luka Modric of Croatia celebrates following victory during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Group I match between Ukraine and Croatia at Kiev Olympic Stadium on October 9, 2017 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Following the first leg of UEFA’s four 2018 World Cup qualification playoffs, only one — Croatia’s 4-1 thrashing of Greece — provided 1) multiple goals scored; 2) at least one goal scored by each side; or 3) a lead/deficit of more than one goal at the midway point.

[ MORE: Switzerland qualify for World Cup ]

On Sunday, Zlatko Dalic’s Croatians made good on that three-goal advantage and booked their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, courtesy of a 0-0 second-leg draw in Piraeus.

[ MORE: Italy facing key changes ahead of decisive 2nd leg vs. Sweden ]

After Luka Modric, Nikola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric set them on their merry way in the first leg (the only blemish coming on a Sokratis Papastathopoulos goal), it was little more than a formality that Croatia would qualify for its second straight World Cup and fifth tournament in six tries (missed out in 2010).

[ MORE: Serie B coach’s epic rant meant to motivate Italy ]

Croatia joined Switzerland in having secured on Sunday their spot at next summer’s tournament in Russia. Four sides — Italy and Sweden, and Ireland and Denmark — will decide UEFA’s final two berths on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

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