Croatia and Russia both stayed on course to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after they fought out 0-0. Stalemate devoid of any fireworks in an uneventful Group H qualifeier on Wednesday.
The result left Croatia top of the group with seven points from four games. Ahead of second-placed Russia on goal difference. Slovakia are the third on six points after a 1-1 home draw with fourth placed Slovenia, who have four points.
Russia’s new coach Valeri Karpin had hoped for a more sparking debut but his side created very little up front against a well-organised Croatian defence featuring debutant Borna Sosa on the left flank.
Arsen Zakharyan, an 18-year old who became the youngest out field player to feature for Russia, drew a fingertip save from visiting goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic with a rasping shot from the edge of the area in the 15th minute.
Ivan Perisic fired the Croatians ahead in the 43rd but scuffed his shot wide before Livaskovic kept out an Aleksei.