Croatia clinched an automatic berth in the 2022 World Cup finals after a late Fedor Kudryashov own goal gave it a 1-0 home win over Russia in its crunch Group D qualifier on Sunday.
Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runners-up, jumped above Russia to top the standings on 23 points from 10 games, one more than the second-placed Russia, which will head into the March playoffs.
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Croatia dominated a match played in driving rain but a string of good saves by visiting goalkeeper Matvei Safonov and a waterlogged pitch kept it at bay before Kudryashov’s clumsy 80th-minute touch delighted the home fans.