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Thrilling World Cup gets the finale it deserves

FIFA World Cup
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Croatia's World Cup playoff 'not over' after first-leg win - Zlatko Dalic

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic cautioned that their playoff tie is "not over" despite Thursday's dominant 4-1 win over Greece in the first leg of their UEFA World Cup qualifying playoff.

Two uncharacteristic defensive miscues cost the Greeks, and Dalic said his tactics came off just as planned.

"We had a tremendous game. I've thanked the players and the fans who made us feel like we had an extra man on the pitch," Dalic said. "But it's not over. This was the first game.

"Our aim tonight was to pressure Greece down the wings, and that worked. We had a lapse in concentration and conceded a goal, but I can't really complain."

Over 90 minutes, the Croats dominated possession and had nine shots on goal compared to Greece's three.

"It was a very difficult night for us ... We have never made so many mistakes in one game," defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos said. "Of course Croatia has the upper hand now. They have a 90 percent chance of going through."

Greece coach Michael Skibbe said his team failed to fully recover from the first goal, but remained confident he would see improvement.

"If you help your opponents score the first and the fourth goal then it's very difficult to be competitive," he said. "Of course we are very unhappy right now. We will be a better team in the next match."

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